Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism

Historical Materialism Book Series
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Sébastien Budgen, Paris ╯–╯Steve Edwards, London Marcel van der Linden, Amsterdam ╯–╯Peter Thomas, London


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Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism

Peter Hudis

Leiden╇ •â•‡boston 2012

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hudis, Peter. â•… Marx’s concept of the alternative to capitalism / by Peter Hudis. â•…â•… p. cm. — (Historical materialism book series ; 36) â•…Includes bibliographical references and index. â•…ISBN 978-90-04-22197-0 (hardback : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-90-04-22986-0 (ebook) 1. Capitalism. 2. Marxian economics. 3. Marx, Karl, 1818–1883. I. Title. â•… HB501.H7835 2012 â•… 335.4’12—dc23


ISSN 1570-1522 ISBN 978 90 04 22197 0 (hardback) ISBN 978 90 04 22986 0 (e-book) Copyright 2012 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Global Oriental, Hotei Publishing, IDC Publishers and Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. This book is printed on acid-free paper.

. 100 The ‘third draft’ of Capital.............................. 93 The ‘first draft’ of Capital: The Poverty of Philosophy (1847)╇ ....... 1837–41╇ ...............................................Contents Acknowledgements╇ .............. Marx’s critique of economics and philosophy.......................................................╇ The Transcendence of Alienation in the Writings of the Young Marx╇ ....... Discerning the ideal within the real.. 147 Volumes II and III of Capital╇ ........................................................... Marx’s beginnings.... 1843–4╇ ............... Introductionâ•… Why Explore Marx’s Concept of the Transcendence of Value-Production? Why Now?╇ ... 1845–8╇ ................................................... 169 4............... Objectivist and subjectivist approaches to Marx’s philosophical contribution╇ ........ 93 The ‘second draft’ of Capital: the Grundrisse (1858)╇ ......................... Evaluating the young Marx’s concept of a postcapitalist society╇ ............................. ... The object and purpose of this study╇ ................................. 183 The impact of the Paris Commune on Marx╇ .... 133 3.............................................................╇ The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society in the Drafts of Capital╇ ...... 187 ..... ........................................................ ................................. Marx’s critique of politics and philosophy.....╇ The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital╇ ..................................................... 183 The Critique of the Gotha Programme╇ ................................................ vii 1 1 9 37 37 43 56 75 85 2.................... 147 Volume I of Capital╇ .................................... 1842–3╇ .....................................................................................................................................................................................╇ Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society╇ .................................................... 1............ 1861–3╇ ........................................................

............................. 216 References╇ .............................................................................. 223 Index╇ .............. 231  •  Contents Conclusionâ•… Evaluating Marx’s Concept of a Postcapitalist Society╇ .............. 207 Appendixâ•… Translation of Marx’s Excerpt-Notes on the Chapter ‘Absolute Knowledge’ in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit╇ .....................................................................................

Acknowledgements This work is not the product of mere solitary reflection. and for their careful and studious commentary on the manuscript. since it arose and developed as a result of a series of discussions and debates with numerous friends and colleagues over the course of the last decade. Marilyn Nissim-Sabat. many of them associated with the philosophy of ‘Marxist-Humanism’. Sekou Samateh and Stephen Sarma-Weierman. expressed in numerous conversations and letters. Karel Ludenhoff. David Schweickart. I could not have come this far without their assistance. These include Andrew Cutrofellow. James Obst. Eli Messinger. Dave Black. who commented on earlier versions of this work. I am no less indebted to the thoughts and suggestions provided by a number of scholars at Loyola University Chicago. Ali Reza. Dan Buckley. Lauren Langman. While any faults contained in this work are my responsibility alone. I wish to especially thank Frieda Afary and Kevin Anderson for their insights. Sandra Rein. Dan Vaillancourt and Thomas Wren. . Dale Heckerman. I wish to especially single out Richard Abernethy. David Ingram.


which many claimed had consigned Marx’s work to the dustbin of history. and eroding living conditions.Introduction Why Explore Marx’s Concept of the Transcendence of Value-Production? Why Now? The object and purpose of this study Two decades after the collapse of statist Communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe. a new climate has emerged in which his ideas are subject to renewed discussion and re-examination. social instability and environmental destruction that have accompanied the global expansion of capitalism. the most serious to afflict the global economy in the past seventy years. to the phenomenon of capitalist globalisation. Capitalism has clearly exhausted its historic initiative and raison d’être when . which has sparked interest in Marx’s analysis of the inherently expansionary and global nature of capital. This change is due. which he defined as ‘self-expanding value’. It is also due to the emergence of a global-justice movement over the past two decades. it has also made it clear that the system has little to offer humanity except years and indeed decades of economic austerity. reductions in public services. in part. the new climate of discussion on Marx’s work is due to the worldwide financial and economic crisis that began in 2008. Most of all. The crisis has not only revealed the deep fault-lines that prevent capitalism from supplying the most basic of human needs for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. which has called attention to the economic inequality.

It will eventually include everything Marx ever wrote. As a result of these and related developments.╇ The first Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe was issued in 12 volumes from 1927–35. of his conception of what constitutes an alternative to capitalism. that ‘there is no alternative’2 to capitalism. gatherings and conferences in Brazil. There has been very little discussion or analysis. which has sponsored a series of fora. It is known as MEGA1. is being issued by an international team of scholars co-ordinated from Berlin.1 It provides us with a new vantage-point for exploring Marx’s work unencumbered by uninformed claims about Marx’s work that have governed generations of earlier discussions of Marx’s theoretical contribution. These studies have appeared while a new edition of Marx’s complete works. including his voluminous excerpt-notebooks. Senegal and elsewhere since the 1990s. and the philosophical underpinning of his analysis of the logic of capital. economic crisis. which became widely voiced after 1989. there appears to be little or no consensus within the global-justice movement as to what such an alternative might consist of. The lack of discussion of this issue has persisted in the face of the growth of the global-justice movement. the ‘materialist conception of history’. As a result. The new Gesamtausgabe. It is even hard to find consensus as to what theoretical resources would need to be explored in thinking one out. This diverse movement indicates that despite the notion. For a discussion of its ideological impact. and his critique of valueproduction. in 114 volumes. the discussion of alternatives to capitalism at events sponsored by the globaljustice movement tends to remain rather abstract and limited to statements of intent. however. or MEGA2. devoted to the theme ‘Another World is Possible’. many of which explore hitherto neglected aspects of his thought – such as his writings on the world-market. However. Kenya. most of which were unknown until recently. the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (known as MEGA2). race and gender. non-Western societies. Although the literature on Marx over the past one hundred years is immense. It is the only edition of Marx’s writings that meets the rigorous standards of modern textual editing. most of it has focused on his analysis of the economic and political structure of capitalism. began appearing in East Germany in 1972 and has been issued since 1990 by a more international group of scholars. .╇ Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher popularised this phrase in the early 1980s. increasing numbers of people around the world are searching for such an alternative. MEGA2 will make Marx’s entire body of work available for scholarly analysis for the first time. a number of new works on Marx have appeared. Venezuela. see Mészáros 1995. 2. 1.2  •  Introduction all it can offer the future of humanity are social and natural conditions that are bound to become worse than those afflicting us today.

and the formation of centralised. it is widely assumed. p. which was installed in early 1919 following Eisner’s assassination. the leader of the Bavarian Socialist Republic. 4. Many assumed that a socialist society consists of simply ‘taking over’ monopolised and semi-planned capitalism and running it ‘in the interests of the masses’. because he believed that socialism would emerge quasi-automatically from the inherent contradictions of capitalist society. Shortly after the collapse of this early effort to develop a postcapitalist social system he wrote: At the beginning of the [1918] revolution people were as unprepared for the task of a socialist economy in Germany as they had been for a war economy when war broke out in 1914â•›. There are several reasons for the lack of theoretical reflection on and discussion of Marx’s view of the alternative to capitalism. he heaped considerable praise upon others – especially Fourier and Owen. 18. today’s situation has not changed much since 1918. Marx did not indulge in speculations about the future. . he continued to serve under the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic.╇ While Marx was very critical of some utopian socialists.â•›.╇ Neurath 1973. Instead. To many. It has long been assumed that Marx’s criticism of some of the utopian socialists4 and his strictures against inventing ‘blueprints about the future’. stateplanned economies. meant that he was not interested in commenting about a postcapitalist society. Kurt Eisner. the situation described by Neurath continues to largely define contemporary discussions of the issues raised by Marx’s work. The technique of a socialist economy had been badly neglected.â•›. when Otto Neurath of the Vienna Circle became the planning minister of the shortlived Bavarian Socialist Republic. Another reason for the paucity of discussion of Marx’s view of the alternative to capitalism is that many defenders and critics of Marx took it for granted that socialism is defined by the abolition of the market and private property. This attitude persisted long after it became clear that the societies that called themselves ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ were dismal failures. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  3 In some respects. asked Neurath to become planning minister at the end of 1918. Perhaps of foremost importance is the claim that he simply never addressed the issue. only pure criticism of the capitalist economy was offered and the Marxist pure theory of value and history was studied. Given the widespread discrediting of the régimes that claimed to rule in the name 3.â•›Any preparation for consciously shaping the economy was lacking. it therefore seemed superfluous to take the trouble to sort out what Marx might have had to say about an alternative to capitalism when the ‘socialism’ he strove for was presumably already in existence.3 It would be no exaggeration to say that nearly one hundred years later.

Four lines of inquiry guide this work. value-production and wage-labour rests upon an implicit understanding on his part of what human existence would consist of in their absence. even if it were true that Marx never wrote a word about a postcapitalist future. Now that the state-powers that ruled in Marx’s name have largely passed from the scene. Allan Megill puts it thusly in a recent analysis of Marx’s philosophical legacy: ‘In fact. that capitalism is doomed to destroy itself’. Is it plausible that Marx’s analysis of capital was a purely empirical and scientific endeavour that was not in some way informed by presuppositions concerning the kind of society he hoped would one day come into being? One of the claims that I will aim to substantiate is that the very content of Marx’s analysis of capital.5 Although Megill is correct that Marx’s work exhibits a ‘pre-established interpretative perspective’. Marx remained deeply indebted to Hegel’s dialectical philosophy throughout his life. I believe he is incorrect in conterposing it to the presence of a distinctive Marxian method. One of my claims is that Marx’s dialectical method cannot be fully grasped or appreciated apart from the specific vision of the future that grounded his critique of capital and capitalism. although Marx never wrote a book devoted to the alternative to capitalism.╇ Megill 2002. and he was extremely wary about indulging in speculation about the future (especially in his published writings).╇ It has likewise been claimed that Hegel’s dialectical method cannot be fully grasped or appreciated apart from his concept of ‘the Absolute’. p. it seemed pointless to pour old wine into new bottles by inquiring anew into what Marx had to say about alternatives to capitalism. namely. at the same time that the entire corpus of his work is finally becoming available for study. it is perhaps better not to call Marx’s method a method at all: it is much more an approach to the material. numerous comments and suggestions are found throughout his works about the transcendence of value-production and the contours of a postcapitalist future. It is an approach that “always already” contains within itself a certain conviction about capitalism. First.6 5. . it becomes possible to take a closer look at his œuvre to see if the assumptions that have traditionally governed the understanding of Marx’s view of the alternative to capitalism are in fact accurate. and it directly informed his methodological approach to a host of issues. it does not follow that his work fails to speak implicitly or indirectly to the matter in important ways. In the twenty-first century we face a radically changed situation. How significant are they? One of my purposes is to subject these comments to systematic and critical examination. 6. Second. For more on this.4  •  Introduction of Marx. a pre-established interpretative perspective. even if it is often only implicit in much of it. 240.

I even discovered the Hegelian forms of the syllogism in the process of circulation. What is far less clear. As Marx stated in 1875 a passage in Volume II of Capital that Engels left out of the published version. . offers strong support for this claim. non-alienating society. His emphatic support for democracy. as found in his major published writings as well as unpublished ones that are now being compiled as part of the MEGA2 project. and negativity in Hegel does not lead to a nullity. and Dunayevskaya 2003. the critique is hardly a purely negative one that fails to posit implicit (and sometimes explicit) notions of a positive alternative to it. Marx’s undeniable debt to Hegel’s dialectic7 offers any serious student of Marx a further reason to attempt to discern and analyse the indications of the future that flow from his critique of the capital and other social forms that define present-day society. written from outside the Marxian tradition. and critique of statist domination. Why. Nor does it attempt to put forwards a specific model of a postcapitalist society. free association. My relationship with Hegel is very simple. which Hegel termed ‘absolute negativity’. 32. begin here at all? The reason is that Marx is not simply one of a number of important thinkers but the founder of a distinctive see Rose 1981. singleparty states that ruled in his name. written from within it. instead. See Marx 2008.╇ This debt permeated his entire work. Marx never denied his indebtedness to Hegel’s dialectic of negativity. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  5 Third. relatively few scholarly readers of Marx today would contend that his philosophical perspective had much to do with the totalitarian. postcapitalist society. is what Marx envisaged as the specific form of society that could live up to his liberatory ideals. one might ask. the positive emerges from the negation of the negation. I am a disciple of Hegel. Although I consider efforts to produce the latter to be of great importance. Fourth. there have been surprisingly few attempts to examine his body of thought as a whole in terms of what it suggests about a future. ‘In my zealous devotion to the schema of Hegelian logic. although most of Marx’s work consists of an analysis and criticism of capital. found from his earliest to his last writings. I will seek to fill this gap by exploring Marx’s concept of the transcendence of value-production through an examination of his body of work. and the presumptuous chattering of the epigones who think they have buried this great thinker appear frankly ridiculous to me’. 7. It does not seem possible to fully evaluate the contributions or limitations of Marx’s legacy in the absence of such an investigation. Thus. however. including his ‘mature’ critique of political economy. This does not pretend to be a comprehensive study of Marx. p. Does he ever address this directly? Despite the voluminous literature on Marx. I have a more modest aim: to survey Marx’s work with one aim: to see what implicit or explicit indications it contains about a future.

since ‘As value. This is as true of those who criticise Marx as much as those who claim to follow him. it marks a new philosophical moment that radically transforms all subsequent approaches to the object of investigation. Marx acknowledges that value ‘exists initially in the head. the Grundrisse.â•›We have to cross the logical gap between a problem and its solution by relying on the unspecifiable impulse of our heuristic passion. 10. expresses a real social relationship. Marx’s work (to borrow Michel Foucault’s phrase) is transdiscursive. In Marx. let alone a dialectical illusion. and must undergo as we do so a change of our intellectual personality. ╇ 9.6  •  Introduction approach to the understanding of capitalism that retains its historical relevance so long as capitalism remains in existence.8 His work delineates the parameter of possibilities for the study of capital – as well as of the alternative to it.╇ Polanyi 1962. as distinct from the subjects which are in that ratio to each other’. p. the heuristic gap which lies between problem and discoveryâ•›. in that it produces ‘the possibilities and the rules for the formation of other texts’.â•›. I have crossed a gap. p. by deepening our understanding of it. this does not mean that Marx considered value to be a purely mental category. just as in general ratios can only be thought if they are to be fixed. I cannot guess what I already know. I have made myself into a person seeing and thinking differently.9 This work focuses on Marx’s concept of the transcendence of value-production because he held that capitalism is defined by the production of value and surplus-value. I will refer to it by its better-known name. The change is irrevocable. 387. the commodity is at the ╇ 8. . I shall never see the world again as before. we encounter a thinker who possesses a deep and profound emancipatory conception that radically separates him from his predecessors. 81. Value is not the same as material wealth. Marx’s body of work is one of those rare historical achievements that represent the crossing of a conceptual threshold. Although no Marxist himself. it is wealth computed in monetary terms. he held. The editors of the English-language Marx and Engels Collected Works have chosen to entitle what has been known as the Grundrisse as Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft of 1857–58). p.╇ Marx 1986a. My eyes have become different. in the imagination.╇ Foucault 2003. Michael Polanyi captured the sense of the ‘irrevocable’ threshold that is crossed by an original thinker in a way that addresses why any effort to think out an alternative to capitalism today must come to grips with Marx’s philosophical contribution: We call their work creative because it changes the world as we see it. Having made a discovery.10 However. Value. 143. A problem that I have once solved can no longer puzzle me. For the sake of convenience.â•›.

presenting the former as a transhistorical feature of human existence. goods and services were primarily exchanged on the basis of their material utility. irrespective of humanity’s actual needs and capacities. 13. it nevertheless remains true that labor is the source of social value under tribal. not on the basis of their (abstract) exchangevalue.╇ Marx 1986a. pp. the subject of Capital. Only with capitalism – that is. pp. only when commodity-exchange becomes the primary and indeed universal medium of social interaction through the commodification of labour-power – does value becomes the defining principle of social reproduction. ‘The economic concept of value does not occur among the ancientsâ•›. 544–5. Marx held.â•›. though it may not have crystallized in the former to the point of there being able to be discovered and conceptualized in the same way capitalism makes possible’. however. Marx’s 11. see Marx 1989h. He does not. however. the commodity-form is inseparable from value-production. Marx did not hold that labour is the source of value in all forms of society. According to Mr. insofar as ‘value is a commodity’s quantitatively determined exchangeability’. In response to one of the few critiques of his theoretical corpus that appeared in his lifetime. p. Paul Paolucci is surprisingly imprecise on this point: ‘Although labor relations might be different in various modes of production. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  7 same time an equivalent for all other commodities in a particular ratio’. He treats the commodity as the ‘simplest social form’ in which value manifests itself. simply equate value-production with the exchange of equivalents on the market. 159–60. he wrote: ‘Value. 87–8. In precapitalist societies. 78. The passage conflates value with material wealth. is that all social relations become governed by the drive to augment value. Wagner. is not value itself but rather the commodity.11 Value is the name given for a real.â•›. 78–9. he argues. In sum.╇ Marx 1986a. See Paolucci 2007. For more on this. Since value only exists in objectified form. precisely because it is defined by value-production.â•›The concept of value wholly belongs to the latest political economy.12 The peculiar feature of capitalism. Marx takes pains to note. He therefore treats value-production not as a transhistorical feature of human existence but rather as a specific characteristic of capitalist society. for Marx. Marx was of course fully aware that commodity-exchange predates the existence of capitalism. and capitalist modes of production. capitalism is a mystifying system.╇ Marx 1987a. pp. As Marx states in the Grundrisse. because that concept is the most abstract expression of capital itself and of the production based upon it’. labour (along with nature) in precapitalist societies is a source of material wealth. feudal. merely as a material thing or as a form of material wealth. In his sometimes valuable recent study of dialectics. However. p. especially in comparison with precapitalist ones. material relationship. Marx does not treat the commodity. . 12. He also contends that capitalism reveals what prior modes of production conceal – the socially determinative role of value.13 Marx also denied that value-production would characterise a postcapitalist society. slave. not of value.

His primary concern is with the way social relations in modern society take on the form of value. 536–7. . ‘What is so very strange is to see how he treats the two of us as a singular: “Marx and Engels says etc.╇ Marx 1989h.15 According to Marx. he adopted it from classical-political economists like Adam Smith.╇ See Marx 1983a. is exactly what is needed. that he thought are needed to overcome value-production.”’.16 Since this is not the place to enter into a comparative examination of whether or not Engels’s comments on a postcapitalist society coincided with those of Marx. On many issues their views are far from identical. Marx never claimed originality for this idea. Schäffle e tutti quanti. 17. Schäffle for me’. In doing so I will avoid conflating it with that of his close colleague and follower. not with the application of this theory of value to a ‘social state not even constructed by me but by Mr. Friedrich Engels. such as Engels’s discussion of workers’ cooperatives and labour-time in Anti-Dühring. 533. however. There is little doubt that Marx’s critique of capitalism centres upon a critique of value-production. wherein human relations take on the form of relations between things. What is far less clear. pp.8  •  Introduction theory of value is the “cornerstone of his socialist system”. 16. Marx’s main object of concern is not with the source of value. However. in Marx’s view. I will bracket out Engels’s contribution by focusing primarily on the philosophical works composed by Marx himself. to surmount value-production. this is a fantasy of Wagner. Marx was. As he wrote to Engels in 1856. 15. Marx often expressed surprise that he and Engels were viewed as identical twins. There is no question that Engels was Marx’s closest colleague and follower. p. His main object of critique is the inverted character of social relations in capitalism. Popularisations of Marx often reduce his theory of value to the notion that labour is the source of all value. As I have never established a “socialist system”. p. social relations were not governed by the drive to augment value prior to capitalism and they would not governed by it after capitalism. However. My aim is to discover the elements.’14 He added. although Marx and Engels’s names are often hyphenated and many have even treated their writings as interchangeable. My approach is to investigate Marx’s theoretical corpus on its own terms.╇ Marx 1989h.╇ An exception this will be when there is direct textual evidence that Marx approved of specific formulations of Engels on postcapitalist relations. by Engels’s own admission. however implicit.17 14. ‘In my investigation of value I have dealt with bourgeois relations. 64. a far deeper and more rigorous thinker.

I call these theorists subjectivist Marxists because they emphasise the subjective human forces that seek to subvert and contain 18. Robert Albritton. and John Bell. Patrick Murray. like Hegel’s doctrine of the concept. both heavily indebted to the work of the Frankfurt school. One strain contends that Marx’s most important contribution lies in his understanding of capital as an autonomous force that takes on a life of its own. as is the case with philosophy as a whole. 19. possesses the distinct ontological property of complete indifference to anything that lies outside its logic of self-movement. Georgii Plekhanov and other ‘orthodox’ Marxists who emphasised the importance of objective material conditions.╇ This divide between subjectivist and objectivist readings of Marx has earlier antecedents – such as in the debates in the early twentieth century between Georg Lukács and Rosa Luxemburg. a second and radically different strain of thinkers contends that Marx’s most important contribution lies in his understanding of the subjective human forces that struggle against and strive to annul capital’s drive for hegemony. These thinkers hold that capital. often take the form of matters of philosophia perennis. and Karl Kautsky. In some respects. as will be discussed below. In this perspective.19 They emphasise not the self-determining and automatic character of capital but the limits and barriers that it repeatedly encounters. such as C. totally subsuming the will and actions of the human subject. this debate was replayed in Jean-Paul Sartre’s exchange with Althusser and Lévi-Strauss in the mid-twentieth century. and (3) the proponents of ‘systematic dialectics’ in the US and Western Europe. which include Thomas Sekine. Arthur. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  9 Objectivist and subjectivist approaches to Marx’s philosophical contribution Over the past two decades. two major strains of thought have sought to come to grips with the contemporary relevance of Marx’s critique of capitalism. Marx analyses capital as a peculiar object of knowledge invested with characteristics that parallel Hegel’s delineation of the logic of the concept in the Science of Logic. (2) the German philosopher Hans-Georg Backhaus and US social theorist Moishe Postone.18 At the other end of the philosophical spectrum. Debates within Marxist theory. because they contend that Marx’s critique of capital is best understood as an analysis of objective forms that assume complete self-determination and automaticity. They therefore view capital not only as the subject of Marx’s theoretical work but also as the Subject of modern society.J. Geert Reuten and Tony Smith. I call these theorists objectivist Marxists.╇ Although Tony Smith is part of the ‘systematic-dialectics’ school that has emerged in the last decade. he has a radically different interpretation of the Hegel-Marx relation from the other theorists of this tendency. The objectivist Marxists include several distinct groupings: (1) the Japanese theorist Kozo Uno and his followers. . who each tended to emphasise subjectivity and mass self-activity.

129–30. 22.21 Commodity-economic logics ‘seem to have a certain automaticity’22 and an expansiveness that can only be properly understood by discerning its abstract universal ‘laws’. pervades the world until much of direct human contact or community is obliterated’. one ends up assuming the position of the blind man touching an arbitrary part of the elephant. as.20 There is no direct homology between capitalism as it historically exists and the logic of capital. . for instance.23 What is achieved by focusing on the pure.24 20. they contend. it is the quest for an infinite surpassing of all limits: ‘As soon as the rate of profit becomes the ‘subjective notion’ (in the Hegelian sense) of capital. ‘the subsumption of real economic life by the commodity-economy is never perfect or absolute’. 13. The drive for profit is the absolute idea of capital. the higher the rate of profit. 7. Sekine puts it. which. 21. once it catches on. or precapitalist modes of production. Prominent among the subjectivist Marxists are ‘autonomist Marxists’ such as Mario Tronti. p. by the mercantile practice of buying cheap and selling dear’. 131. 23. John Holloway. every individual firm strives for a maximum rate of profit. p.╇ Sekine 1997b. I will critically examine them in terms of how they worked to unearth Marx’s concept of the transcendence of capitalist value-production.╇ Albritton 1999. The logic of capital. p. 24. abstract logic of capital? We learn that capitalism becomes the more ‘perfect’ the more value-production overcomes restrictions imposed by use-values.╇ Sekine 1990.╇ Sekine 1990. and not “we” the human being’. ‘from without. The more efficient capital is in achieving this.╇ Sekine 1997b. The version of objectivist Marxism found in the work of Kozo Uno and his followers holds that Marx analysed capitalism as a self-contained logical system.10  •  Introduction the logic of capital. non-commodified social relations. as Thomas L. pp. 212. and Michael Hardt. While these schools of thought have made a number of important contributions to the understanding of Marx’s work over the past few decades. When capital is viewed. The latter is the real object of Marx’s critique. is not the same as historically-existing capitalism since. from the point of view of the revolutionary proletariat. Antonio Negri. since Marx aims to show that generalised commodity-production is defined by a ‘dehumanising logic. Sekine therefore argues that capital is best understood from the vantagepoint of the logic of capital rather than from the proletariat. p. In the dialectic of capital the teller of the story (the subject) is capital itself.

pp. However. 26. p. As Sekine puts it.╇ Albritton 1999. they conclude that contemporary society is no longer capitalist – since unregulated markets and anarchic competition are a thing of the past. Hence. anarchic competition and private property serve as the inner core of the logic of capital. trade-unions and so on) can interfere with the markets’.25 There is much to be said for the view that Marx does not analyse a historically-existing capitalism but rather a chemically-pure capitalism that does not exist and never will exist. p.26 Robert Albritton likewise contends that ‘[e]conomic reification implies a market-governed society: a society in which the actions of human agents are directed and subsumed by market forces beyond their control’. 25.29 Since the Unoists contend that unregulated markets. 17.╇ Sekine 1990. If the idea of capital remains unclear. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  11 The Unoists argue that before we can begin to envisage a future free of capitalism we must ‘first come to grips with the inner law of motion (or logic) of capitalism’. by the alienation of labour? One of my aims is to investigate whether Marx considered the existence of the market and private property to be defining factors of the logic of capital.27 There is no doubt that self-regulating markets and anarchic production were important factors in capitalism’s historical development. ‘Pure capitalism is based on the absolute right of private property’. Albritton and other followers of Uno clearly insist that they are intrinsic to the logic of capital: ‘Pure capitalism involves the subsumption of labour and production-process to a system of interlocking markets that are self-regulating in the sense that no extra-economic force (state. 128–9. 18. we should follow Marx who ‘forgets about blueprints for the future and concentrates on economics’. 135. 29. instead.╇ Albritton 1999. 20. instead of getting bogged down in secondary or non-essential features. p.28 Albritton writes. 27. But is this the same as claiming that the existence of an anarchic market serves as a defining feature of the logic of capital? Moreover. questions can be raised about whether Uno and his followers succeed in correctly identifying the essential features of capital.╇ Sekine 1990. p. . He utilised this approach in order to discern capital’s ‘law of motion’. is it the market that generates ‘economic reification’ or is it produced.╇ Albritton 1999. the understanding of its transcendence would be ‘haphazard and arbitrary’. 28. Sekine argues that ‘[c]apitalism is based on self-regulating markets and anarchic production of commodities’. monopoly.

130. of abstraction from all other being’. value-production and capital. 236–8. who see the logic of capital as freeing itself from such contingent factors as forms of labour. ‘Marx wrote a great book on capital (or commodities) not a book on labour (or production)’.32 This view is not easily reconciled with the connection Marx makes between the alienation of labour. p. 38. p.33 In capitalism ‘all the natural. As he wrote in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844.╇ Marx 1975r. is simultaneously the concrete exertion of particular kinds of labour and undifferentiated. forms of labour and the struggles against it are not intrinsic to the logic of capital: ‘What we are trying to determine is the material reproduction of social life entirely through a commodity-economic logic without any human resistance or intervention of any form of extraeconomic force’. and on a particular. Most importantly. 31. p. of complete being-forself. As a result.12  •  Introduction the contemporary world ‘cannot constitute a world-historic stage of development of capitalism. it is the expression of a specific kind of labour – abstract or undifferentiated labour. from ‘being a man [he] becomes an abstract activity’.╇ Albritton 1999. 32. 35. spiritual and social variety of labour’ is extinguished. p. very one-sided machine-like labour at that’.34 In Volume I of Capital. 33. he held. They are especially uncomfortable with the discussion of the dual character of labour in Chapter 30.╇ See Marx 1976e. All labour. Abstract labour is the substance of value and capital is self-expanding value. 34. anarchic competition.╇ Sekine 2000. the individual becomes ‘depressed spiritually’. 1997b. This makes humanity ‘ever more exclusively dependent on labour. Sekine writes. the great stress that the Unoists place on unregulated markets. capital is the expression of ‘a special sort of work which is indifferent to its content.35 This poses problems for the Unoists. since it fails to embody the logic of capital’.31 For the Unoists.╇ Sekine. abstract labour. Marx further developed this with his concept of the ‘dual character of labour’. . and private property leads them to deny that alienated labour constitutes the defining feature of capitalism. pp. 286. also terming it ‘the pivot on which a clear comprehension of political economy turns’. 132. 216. Marx held that capital is not simply an instrument of production. Marx considered this concept of the dual character of labour so important that he referred to it as his original contribution. p.30 One is left wondering what theoretical significance Marx’s work still has if this is in fact the case.╇ Marx 1975r.

without bringing in the issue of labour. ‘Results of the Immediate Process of Production’. which they leave out of their reconstructions of the dialectic of capital. in discussing the historical development of the capitalist method of production. which only approximates the logic of capital. since a major problem faced by many thinkers is the temptation to conflate the logical analysis of a phenomenon with its actual development. For example.37 There are benefits to such a levels-approach. 24–5. They seek to take account of it by utilising levels-theory. This is from the famous ‘Chapter Six’ of Capital. . 38. 1014. 39. At all events.â•›ruthlessly enforces its will despite obstacles which are in any case largely of its own making. although capital’s logic is always a totalizing force in modern history. Albritton seeks to account for subjective resistance even though his understanding of the logic of capital completely abstracts from it: ‘Thus. to the extent that it runs up against resistances. in order to portray the laws of political economy in their purity we are ignoring these sources of friction.╇ Kierkegaard 1992. 55. The logic of capital corresponds to one level of analysis. the actual historical development of capitalism often upsets the ‘logical flow’ of capital’s drive to self-expand irrespective of human resistance or natural limitations. whereas existence is the very separation that prevents the logical flow’.39 36. it can never consummate a totality that is unified around an essence at the level of history’. Marx seems to have been conscious of this as well. The other level is actual history. as is the practice in mechanics when the frictions that arise have to be dealt with in every particular application of its general laws. p. Kierkegaard addressed this: ‘A person can be a great logician and become immortal through his services and yet prostitute himself by assuming that the logical is the existential and that the principle of contradiction is abrogated in existence because it is indisputably abrogated in logic.╇ See Sekine 1997a. which proceeds from ‘The Pricing of Commodities’ in Chapter One to ‘The Functions of Money’ in Chapter Two to ‘The Operation of Capital’ in Chapter Three. and resistance to capital occur on the level of historical analysis. Labour and the productionprocess are brought in later. published only after Marx’s death.36 This is not to suggest that Uno and his followers set aside labour altogether. Contingent factors like conditions of labour.38 As Albritton and other followers of Uno emphasise.â•›. as seen from his comment in Capital: Capitalist productionâ•›. p.╇ Marx 1976e. production-relations. 37. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  13 One of Capital. pp.â•›.╇ Albritton 1999.

leads them to conclude that the abolition of the latter is the central precondition for a postcapitalist society.â•›.╇ Albritton 1999.╇ See Albritton 1999. 88. This leads them to hold onto a rather traditional view of ‘socialism’.45 40.╇ Albritton 2004. 180: ‘The capitalist epoch will come to be seen as one which relied on incredibly crude economic mechanisms called “markets”. and a more expansive view of socialism as consisting of transformed ecocommunities based on a balance of production and consumption. p. 45.╇ Ibid. however.43 Albritton writes.â•›I disagree with [the] view that a planned economy can be capitalist’. Their claim that alienated labour is extrinsic to the logic of capital.42 The view that forms of circulation and the market define the logic of capital leads Uno and some of his followers to conclude that the key to transcending capitalism is to abolish markets and establish state control of production. he takes issue with Marx for what he calls the ‘weak and at times ambiguous presentation of the labour theory of value in the early pages of Capital’. ‘The USSR represented a huge effort to realise socialism and its failure to do so is tragic.14  •  Introduction Nevertheless.41 He argues that Marx was ‘not fully cognisant of the above points and hence does not theorize capital’s inner logic as a rigorous dialectical logic’. . It it is not clear. p. if such a position meshes with his overall attitude to the determining role of markets.40 In doing so. p. 42. Albritton defends Uno’s view that ‘value must be thoroughly established and understood as a circulation form before its substantive grounding in the production process can be understood’. the way in which Albritton views the relation between the logical and historical raises many questions. Although Marx analysed capital as a product of specific conditions of production in which concrete labour becomes dominated by abstract labour.╇ Albritton 2008. 89. p.â•›. 43. 44.44 The Unoists are not wrong to contend that grasping the logic of capital predetermines the understanding of its alternative. The problem is that their view of the logic of capital comes to grief in light of this very insight. It was relatively successful in some areas and less so in othersâ•›. whereas marketanarchy and private property is intrinsic to it. See Sekine 1990. 75.╇ Sekine has a more critical attitude towards the former USSR. 41. one that is not likely to spark the imagination of a humanity that has absorbed the disastrous experiences of centrally planned economies in Eastern Europe and the USSR.’ This tends to overlook the fact that markets existed before capitalism and that the market is far from being the distinguishing or defining feature of capitalism.

such as Hans-Georg Backhaus. In his influential and comprehensive work Dialektik der Wertform. for Marx. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  15 Another version of objectivist Marxism is found in the work of a number of thinkers associated with the latter-day Frankfurt school. He writes. ‘Marx’s basic thought. He argues that capital can take the form of a self-determining subject that disregards contingency only because the labour that produces it is subsumed by an abstraction. Marcuse and Habermas while placing greater emphasis than they did on political economy and the exegesis of Marx’s Capital. which takes on a life of its own in a manner analogous to Hegel’s concept of the absolute subject. Backhaus argues that Marx’s object of critique is not an empirically existing capitalism but rather the abstract logic of capital.46 Like Uno and his followers. the universal forms of capital are the object of investigation. For Backhaus. 81. .48 Backhaus attempts to show that ‘Marx describes capital as subject or as selfrelation’. instead of capital’s deep structure. The most significant is that Backhaus contends that the core of the logic of capital is not the market and private property but the social form of labour. This thought culminates in the conception of the autonomous totality of social capital as a real total subject.╇ Backhaus 1992. 47. speculators. which abstracts itself from the weal and woe of individual subjects and is “indifferent” to them’.╇ Backhaus 1992. p. is not Marx’s least Hegelian work but his most Hegelian work – even more ‘Hegelian’ than the 1844 Manuscripts. 71.47 He further specifies.╇ Backhaus 1992. Backhaus considers this of cardinal importance. 68. They seek to critically build on the insights of such pioneering figures of the Frankfurt school as Adorno. 48. he argues. he contends that Hegel’s Absolute Idea is ‘adequate’ to the Marxian concept of capital. is that human beings confront their own generic forces.) the object of critique. not its actual unfolding in history. Whereas 46. Capital. he emphasises that. since failure to grasp this leads to making the personifications of capital (businessmen.╇ See Backhaus 1997. Horkheimer. the determining force of modern society is not the capitalists but rather capital. Despite his affinity with some positions of the Unoists. alien being. p. that is their “collective forces” or “social forces” as an autonomous. etc. Untersuchungen zur Marxschen Ökonomiekritik.49 In an argument that parallels the position of Uno and his followers. hitherto ignored by all economists. p. 49. ‘The fusion of the subject-object inversion with the problem of the concept of capital is the fundamental theme of Marx’s œuvre’. there are major differences between Backhaus and their approach.

16  •  Introduction the Unoists downplay the category of the dual character of labour in explaining capital’s drive for self-expansion.â•›. several initial chapters of it appeared earlier. 64–7. speciesessence of humanity.50 These themes are further elaborated in Moishe Postone’s Time. which is specific to capitalism.51 Postone’s work centres on a critique of what he calls the central flaw of ‘traditional Marxism’: its transhistorical view of labour. 52. By this he means the view of labour as an instrumental and socially-mediating activity that expresses the natural. abstract labour is undifferentiated human labour. p. especially his First Philosophy of Spirit. . and routinised activity. See Backhaus 1992.â•›Life consists in action. and were widely discussed in Germany. Very little of his work is currently available in English. but the notion that ‘labour as such’ was the determining social form was so far from view that Aristotle contended that ‘action and production differ in kindâ•›. It assumes that the source of capitalism’s contradictions lies not in its alienating mode of labour but. See Aristotle 1998. in unequal forms of distribution. Traditional Marxism becomes so enamoured of the expansive power of labour in transforming conditions of natural existence that it adopts an affirmative attitude towards the very object of Marx’s critique – the reduction of human contingency to the exigencies of abstract labour. Concrete labour is the array of differentiated forms of exertion that create useful products. rather. 7 [1254a6–7]. Labor and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory. Marx himself held.â•›. Postone suggests. abstract labour is the basis of value-production. for instance. Instead of grasping value as the expression of the specific kind of labour in capitalism. is that it naturalises the form of labour specific to capitalism by viewing it in metaphysical terms. 51. For Marx. Although this view has been widely attributed to Marx by both his critics and followers. in the 1970s. The market and private property become seen as the main problem. it becomes understood as a 50.╇ Although Backhaus’ Dialektik der Wertform was not published until 1997. repetitive. that labour in this sense exists only in capitalism.╇ Backhaus suggests that Hegel’s writings.52 Its dual character lies in the opposition between concrete labour and abstract labour. pp. as Postone shows. because only in capitalism does labour take on a dual character.╇ It is important not to conflate Marx’s famous contention that all forms of human society possess a particular mode of production with the claim that ‘labour as such’ is the defining and determining relation of all forms of society. The problem with traditional Marxism. not production’. It comes to dominate all social interaction. had a particular mode of production. Ancient Greek society. Only in capitalism does labour become the all-determining social relation. Backhaus posits the concept of abstract labour as central to it. ‘labour in general’. The subsumption of concrete labour by abstract labour through the medium of socially-necessary labour-time reduces the former to a monotonous. anticipated Marx’s concept of abstract labour.

Whether surplus-value is appropriated by the state or the market is of secondary importance. Since selfinitiative and creative unfolding characterises capital and not labour.╇ Postone 1993. According to ‘the interpretation of value as a category of the market’. Marx held that the production of wealth is not the same as the production of value. Many presume that the crisis of the welfare-state in the West and the collapse of ‘actually existing socialism’ in the East provide ample proof that capitalism has irretrievably triumphed over ‘socialism’ and that ‘Marxism’ is dead. unimpeded by ‘market anarchy’.54 Postone’s critique of traditional Marxism illuminates important dimensions of the contemporary period. Postone concludes. 54. p. He argues. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  17 ‘blind’ mechanism regulating the exchange of commodities. that the subject of modern society is not the human-being but capital. The latter is historically specific and emerges only when labour assumes a dual character. Yet such a viewpoint is valid only if the aporiae of traditional Marxism are accepted. constitutes the core of the logic of capital. avers Postone. p. .53 Traditional Marxism assumes that ‘in socialism the ontological principle of society appears openly.╇ Postone 1993. p. the abolition of this blind mechanism through state-planning and nationalised property is ‘socialism’. For traditional Marxism. 55. 49. ‘Far from demonstrating the victory of capitalism over socialism. In this sense. This. 61. Capitalism exists wherever the defining principle of social organisation is the reduction of human labour to ever-more abstract forms of value-creating labour. what passed for ‘socialism’ turns out to be the very object of Marx’s critique of capitalism. ‘the same forms of wealth of labor that are distributed mediately in capitalism would be coordinated in socialism’. Neither the workers nor any other social force can therefore be considered subjects of liberation. Capital takes on a life of its own because the subjectivity of workers becomes subsumed by abstract labour.╇ Postone 1993. the recent collapse of “actually existing socialism” could be understood as signifying the collapse of the most rigid. vulnerable and oppressive form of state-interventionist capitalism’. whereas in capitalism it is hidden’. 14. as do other objectivists.55 Postone also contends that traditional Marxism errs in proclaiming the working class as the subject of social transformation. not the existence of private property or the market. The ‘new society’ is defined as having the nature of labour under capitalism – its role as a rational regulator of social relations – come into its own. we must look not to proletarian class-struggle but to capital to point the way towards 53.

Therefore. There is a continual contradiction between the drive to produce material wealth and to augment value. by capital itself. however. reproduces the problem. the better the opportunity to realise the value of his initial investment. Postone grounds this argument in the claim that the individuality of the labourer cannot be distinguished from the value-form of labour-power. Thus. As productivity rises.56 But if the working class or any other human agent is not the principle of emancipation. The best way to increase productivity is to invest in labour-saving devices. the value of each commodity falls. Such a standpoint makes unequal forms of distribution. 80. it really goes no further than the position of such classical political economists as David Ricardo. p. . more goods are produced in the same unit of time. They respond by trying to further boost productivity. Postone argues. since the greater the quantity of goods produced. The increase in material wealth corresponds to a decline in the magnitude of value. Labour is the source of value and the magnitude of value is determined by the amount of socially-necessary labour-time it takes to produce a commodity. capitalism is based on a kind of treadmill-effect in 56.╇ Postone 1993. Costs of production fall and prices tend to fall as a result. Traditional Marxism goes no further than stressing the difference between the value of labour-power and the value of the total product created by wage-labour. Since workers cannot be separated from the value-form of their labouring activity (at least insofar as they function as workers) subjecting capitalism to critique from the standpoint of the labourer leads to adopting an affirmative attitude towards the value-form of labour-power. Postone submits.18  •  Introduction the transcendence of capitalism. instead of the nature of labour under capitalism. how can capitalism be overcome? It is overcome. ‘The identification of the proletariat (or the species) with the historical Subject rests ultimately on the same historically undifferentiated notion of “labor” as does Ricardian Marxism’. Capitalism is driven not only to produce material goods and services but also to augment value. This presents capitalists with a knotty problem: the relative fall in the value of each commodity risks leaving them short of the funds needed to maintain their level of productive output. He addresses this by focusing on ‘the central contradiction of capitalism’ – the drive to increase material wealth versus the drive to augment value. Postone goes as far as to contend that dead labour is the emancipatory alternative. since the increase in material wealth leads to a further decrease in the relative value of each commodity. The resulting growth in productivity. the object of critique. While such a standpoint may appear ‘radical’.

58 However. He contends that Marx based his analysis of capital on this Hegelian notion.â•›. on the one hand.â•›.╇ Postone 1993. he leaves us with little sense of how to close the gap between is and ought – especially since. for the first time. as he emphasises. in Capital. Postone therefore has little to say about either a postcapitalist future or how to get there. expresses the logic of capital as self-expanding value. to become the subjects of their own liberation’. it becomes hard to see how capital can actually be ‘overcome’. There Marx writes. Hegel’s concept of the absolute subject bears a striking similarity to the concept of capital. ‘value is here the subject’. What may be making it hard for him to do so is the theoretical conception he is most attached to – that capital is the subject. On the other hand. Posing dead labour as the emancipatory alternative by pointing to the ‘shearing pressure’ could hardly suffice so long as an automatic collapse of capitalism is ruled out of consideration. As he sees it. there is no reason to presume that capitalism will ‘automatically collapse’.e.╇ Postone 1993. as a self-referential entity. Postone’s view of this is based on a specific reading of Hegel.57 The resulting ‘shearing pressure’ renders the system unstable. since it is a self-moving substance that ‘grounds itself. p. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  19 which it is constantly driven towards technological innovation regardless of the human or environmental cost. p. ‘overcoming the historical Subject’ – i.â•›a growing disparity separates the conditions for the production of material wealth from those for the generation of value. But how exactly does this lead to an emancipatory future? Postone does not say. . 58. The disparity between the accumulation of historical time and the objectification of immediate labor time becomes more pronounced as scientific knowledge is increasingly materialized in productionâ•›. 224. and the value frame within which such developments are expressed (which is bound to such labor).’ He argues that Hegel’s Absolute. by refusing to identify human agents in the present who could help realise such a future. capital – ‘would allow people. The result is as follows: A growing disparity arises between developments in the productive powers of labor (which are not necessarily bound to the direct labor of the workers). he is trying to counter what is often seen as the pessimism of earlier theorists of the Frankfurt school like Adorno and Marcuse by insisting that capital is a two-dimensional entity that does not foreclose the possibility of liberation. On the one hand. 297. ‘an automatic 57. Volume I. He writes. on the other. as seen in the chapter on ‘The General Formula of Capital’.

’. In a 59. 124. In the French edition.╇ Ibid. p. the appearance is deceptive.61 As Marx wrote in the Grundrisse. 61. value appears to selfexpand on its own account so long as we restrict ourselves to the process of circulation. This is why Marx did not use the phrase ‘value as subject’ when he moved into the analysis of the productionprocess of capital. Circulation therefore does not carry within itself the principle of self-renewalâ•›. Despite his emphatic opposition to theoretical approaches that view production-relations as a mere reflection of the process of circulation. 255. See Marx 1989c. p. we find that capital’s claim to be the self-moving subject encounters internal limits. 186. p. however.â•›.╇ Marx 1976e. flowing from the dual character of labour.â•›.â•›. the appearance that value ‘has the occult ability to add value to itself’. In doing so. by necessity. Marx revised Capital substantially when he issued the French edition in 1872–5 and stated that it possesses a ‘scientific value independent of the original’. Otherwise it flickers out in indifference’. .â•›Commodities therefore have to be thrown into it anew from the outside.20  •  Introduction subject’. he calls value ‘the dominant subject [übergreifendes Subjekt] of this processâ•›. 60.â•›. Postone. capital ‘cannot ignite itself anew through its own resources. ‘Contradictions in the General Formula’. Emphases are in the original. As Marx shows in the next chapter.62 These and other passages indicate that Marx does think that capital takes on the form of a self-moving substance or subject – insofar as we view capital from the viewpoint of the process of circulation.╇ The development of Marx’s Capital further raises questions about Postone’s claim that Marx posed capital or ‘dead labour’ as the subject. This movement creates. Marx later shows that this appearance is dispelled once we enter the labour-process and encounter capital’s dependence on living labour. When we move to the production-process. Marx is discussing the process of circulation.59 Though this may appear to confirm the claim that Marx views capital as the absolute subject. he seeks to redirect radical theory towards a thoroughgoing critique of the production-relations of contemporary society. as noted above. Marx removed all three references to capital and value as subject.╇ Marx 1986a 28. Postone imports a category that Marx uses to express the circulation-process into an effort to highlight the dynamics of the productionprocess. as embodied in the movement from money to commodity to more money (M-C-M’). he prioritises a category that is actually adequate to the sphere of circulation. however. In opposition to this standpoint of ‘traditional Marxism’. criticises ‘traditional Marxism’ for emphasising the process of circulation at the expense of the forms of production. like fuel into a fire. 62.60 However. It is important to keep in mind the context of ‘The General Formula of Capital’.

it is articulated on the basis of purely systematic considerations’. on the other hand. Since Postone thinks that capital is the subject of modern society. especially since he (correctly) emphasises that simply abolishing the market is not a solution. The order in which Marx presents the categories does not correspond to ‘the order of 63.J. 64. and not the workers or other human forces of liberation. The most prominent of these theorists is C. However. Yet what are the emancipatory forms that we could expect to see emerge from the self-development of capital? Is there a role for human subjectivity in overcoming capital. author of The New Dialectic and Marx’s ‘Capital’. and if so. he differs from Postone in placing more emphasis on forms of circulation and monetary relations than on production-relations. Systematic dialectics. . and he differs from the Unoists in placing more emphasis on subjective forms of resistance to capital. he emphasises the distinction between the logic of capital and capitalism’s historical development.╇ Arthur 2002. he does not say. Arthur contends that most commentators on Marx have failed to come to grips with the complexity of his ideas because they conflate historical dialectics with systematic dialectics. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  21 word. Historical dialectics deals with the rise and fall of actual social systems. Arthur. he argues. deals with ‘a given whole and demonstrates how it reproduces itself: thus the ordering of the categories is in no way determined by the recapitulation of a historical chain of causality. Like the Unoists. Arthur’s work falls in between the positions of the Unoists and Postone. by conflating Marx’s discussion of value as ‘an automatic subject’ at a specific point in the analysis of capitalist circulation with value as the absolute subject in Marx’s analysis of capitalism as a whole. Postone reaches something of an impasse when it comes to addressing the specific forms of life which can replace the logic of capital. he emphasises the homology between Marx’s delineation of the logic of capital and Hegel’s logic of the concept. The third grouping of objectivist Marxists are those who subscribe to ‘systematic dialectics’. what is it? Aside from mentioning in passing the way in which capital generates new needs and desires. Postone contravenes his own insistence concerning the importance of not elevating the sphere of distribution or circulation above that of production. an independent school of thought developed over the past two decades. he is led to argue that the alternative to capital will ultimately emerge not from the development of human agents like the proletariat but rather from capital itself. Capital is indeed the emancipatory alternative for Postone. Like Postone. p. is best understood as ‘the articulation of categories to conceptualize an existent concrete whole’.63 Marx’s Capital.

has nothing to do with a historical delineation of commodity-production. 4. from the systematic to the historical.╇ Arthur 2002. Marx begins with the most simple or abstract expression of the social form that characterises capitalism in order to draw out the developmental logic of capital as a whole. 66. explains why many have found Marx’s Capital difficult to grasp.╇ This is not to suggest that Marx makes references to historical development only at the conclusion of Capital. Friedrich Engels.64 Capital consists of a sequential ordering of abstract categories. Marx’s discussion in Chapter One of Capital on the commodity-form and the forms of value is notoriously difficult. In discussing money in Chapter Two. 65. Even Engels conceded in letters to Marx. that he found it hard to follow the argument. so Marx begins Capital with the most elementary expression of the commodity-form that contains within itself the elements that call for systematic elaboration.╇ See Luxemburg 1978. Chapter One. Arthur 64. constitute a historical rendition of the development of capitalism itself. however. who held that the development from the ‘simple’ to the ‘general’ or universal commodity-form in Chapter One referred to the historical development from small-scale commodity-production to more complex forms in advanced industrial capitalism. p. Arthur finds this highly specious.65 An early attempt to make sense of these difficulties was offered by Engels. This does not. He held that Chapter One is best understood by discerning the historical sequence implied by Marx’s analytical categories. Marx does discuss the historical sequence by which precious metals came to serve as money. Just as Hegel begins his Science of Logic with the most elementary and barren category. ‘Being’. Marx is referencing not a particular historical stage (like small-scale or petty commodity-exchange) but rather the determinate social form that characterises a chemically-pure capitalism. . 184. beginning with Marx’s closest colleague and follower.66 The impatience to leap from the abstract to the concrete. and has given rise to numerous efforts to justify or reject the apparent reliance on what Rosa Luxemburg once called ‘its Hegelian rococo’. because the historical phenomenon of capitalism can only be comprehended from the vantage-point of the systemic and abstract logic of capital. not a consequential ordering of how they actually unfold in history. that nevertheless implicitly contains the whole. Although it begins with the ‘simple’ exchange of one product of labour for another.22  •  Introduction their actual appearance in history’. not at the beginning. he says. Marx’s historical account of capitalism appears only at the end of Volume I of Capital. p. Arthur convincingly shows that conflating the historical with the systematic has led to gross misunderstandings of Marx’s work. as he was reading the galleyproofs of Chapter One.

p. or money. 73. 69. but from the “sphere of simple circulation or the exchange of commodities” to “the hidden abode of production”. which discusses the dual character of labour prior to discussing the forms of value and money. p. 71.71 This places Arthur closer to the Unoists than to Postone. 68. 10. 82. 74. because capitalism is above all a monetary economy characterised by the same kind of ‘immanent abstractness’ found in Hegel’s delineation of the logic of the concept.╇ Arthur 2002. He writes. 46. ‘In valueform theory it is the development of the forms of exchange that is seen as the prime determinant of the capitalist economy’. has been delineated. Arthur sees a homology between Marx’s Capital and Hegel’s Science of Logic.74 On these grounds. ‘It is notorious that Marx dives down from the phenomenon of exchange-value to labour as the substance of value in the first 67. 72.73 As he sees it. the forms of value and capital analysed by Marx ‘are in effect of such abstract purity as to constitute a real incarnation of the ideas in Hegel’s logic’. labour can be brought into the dialectic of capital only after the general form of value. . p. instead. p. p.╇ Arthur 2002.’67 Like other objectivist Marxists. 94. making it abstract human labour’. p. The homology may not be self-evident. we need to recognise that ‘The key transition in Capital is not from simple commodity production to capitalist production. who contends that production rather than exchange or monetary relations constitutes the inner core of the logic of capital. p. he argues.70 On these grounds ‘capital may be seen as the avatar of Hegel’s absolute concept’. it is not that labour becomes abstract in the process of production which then lends an abstractive character to value and capital. 40. 141.╇ Arthur 2002.68 The homology nevertheless exists. See also 157: ‘It is through exchange that abstraction imparts itself to labour. He denies that the social form of labour is the defining or constitutive feature of capital: ‘Labour and value are not to be positively identified with each other’. Arthur takes issue with Chapter One of Capital. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  23 writes that to adequately comprehend Marx. Arthur asks ‘but can it make sense to speak of value where there are no markets?’72 As Arthur sees it.╇ Arthur 2002. it is monetary or exchange-relations that render labour abstract: ‘It may still be the case that labour becomes “abstract” only when products are priced’. p. 70.╇ Arthur 2002.69 Hence. 11.╇ Arthur 2002.╇ Arthur 2002. Arthur writes.╇ Arthur 2002. Whereas Postone ties value-production to the dual character of labour. 24. since Arthur assumes that ‘Hegel was an idealist’ whereas Marx was a ‘materialist’.

â•›leave aside initially any labour content – in this way I am departing from Marx who analyzed both togetherâ•›.â•›.â•›.76 He contends that.╇ Arthur 2002. See Albritton 2005. he thinks that the logic of capital never succeeds in completely freeing itself from dependence on living labour.╇ Arthur 2002. in Capital.77 Given the overriding importance that Marx ascribed to his category of the dual character of labour. ‘Marx has a dogmatic beginning in so far as he presupposes the items exchanged are labour products’.╇ Arthur 2002. How do we square Arthur’s claim that his ‘systematic-dialectical’ approach is best-suited to understanding Marx’s actual aim and intent in Capital. but still in some sense actâ•›. is outside the theory’. 76. 157–8.â•›. 79.24  •  Introduction three pages of Capital and people rightly complain that they do not find any proof there’. when that very approach compels him to call into question Marx’s exposition of what he called his ‘original contribution’ which is ‘crucial to an understanding of political economy’?78 Arthur also distances himself from the Unoists by arguing that labour is not extrinsic to the dialectic of capital. 80.╇ Albritton responds thus: ‘Because of the way Arthur inserts class struggle into the dialectic of capital.╇ Marx 1976e. 52. pp. but it is still a question of manipulating their activity. In his view.╇ Arthur 2002.â•›. p. 132. it becomes impossible to theorize capital’s inner logic as a whole dialecticallyâ•›.â•›. ‘The problem for capital’. 182. p.â•›Class struggle. pp. Although he thinks that Marx was mistaken to bring forms of labour into Chapter One of Capital. indeed as capital.â•›I differ from Marx in that I refuse to find it necessary to come to labour until after conceptualizing capital as a form-determination. he writes. ‘is that it needs the agency of labour’79 in order to create surplus-value. he thinks that it is best to .â•›. 77.â•›.â•›. 78. At this level of the logic of capital – that of the discrepancy between the value of labour-power and the value of the total product – resistance is bound to occur:80 The former ‘subjects’ of production are treated as manipulable objects. strictly speaking. this raises the question of whether Arthur fully does justice to the content of Capital. not of depriving them of all subjectivity. . Bringing in labour too early risks giving the appearance of model-building. even if Marx is right that the productive power of labour 75. 12. pp. 85.75 In contrast to Marx’s approach. They act for capital.â•›Thus. 179. labour needs to be brought into the logic of capital in order to explain how the capitalist manages to compel workers to produce more value than they themselves consume. 79–80. p.

A diverse group of thinkers who have developed a very different approach from the objectivists are autonomist Marxists. the considerable emphasis that he places on market and monetary relations suggests that he considers the abolition of the market the pons asini of the negation of capitalism. 82. He writes. reverse the polarity and start again from the beginning: and the beginning is the class struggle of the working class’. however. is a matter that his work leaves largely unaddressed. 52. At the same time. took shape in response to specific forms of mass resistance. the repressed subjectivity of the workers remains a threat to capital’s purposes in this respect. On these grounds.╇ Arthur 2002.╇ Arthur 2002. instead of viewing labour and capital as distinct. but their resistance is also responsible for the very constitution of capital. 211. Mario Tronti articulated this position as early as 1964: ‘We too have worked with a concept that puts capitalist development first. Though it appears 81.82 What might constitute a negation of capital that truly transcends capital. and workers second. p. he prefers to say little about the future on the grounds that the main burden of a Marxian critique consists of tracing out the trajectory of capital. They distance themselves from the arguments of the objectivists in a number of important ways. 1. he is very critical of Soviet-type régimes because their reliance on extra-economic force to spur economic growth led to gross inefficiencies. This was a mistake. he rejects Postone’s characterisation of the USSR and other state-command economies as ‘state-capitalist’. he refrains from suggesting that it contains any immanent indication of the content of a new society.81 What does Arthur’s ‘systematic dialectics’ suggest about a possible alternative to capitalism? Like most objectivists. they hold that capital emerges and develops in response to struggles against oppression and exploitation. I refer to them as subjectivists because they contend that the focus of Marx’s work is delineating the forms of subjective resistance that arise against the logic of capital. Still. 83. externally-connected entities. And now we have to turn the problem on its head. p. it is necessary to bear in mind that capital still depends on it.╇ Tronti 1979. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  25 is absorbed into that of capital to all intents. Workers not only resist the development of capital. p. ‘A negation of capital that fails to go beyond capital is necessarily a negation of capital that falls behind capital’. First. Although he finds a place for subjective resistance within the logic of capital. . Tronti and other autonomists argue. Moreover.83 Each stage of capitalist production.

86. . instead of viewing capital as a self-determining movement that effaces barriers to its self-expansion. 85.â•›. Negri writes. based not on the reproduction but on the destruction of capitalism. it is actually a reactive. p. 84.87 Fourth.â•›. Holloway argues that Marx’s work can best be understood from the vantage-point of Frankfurt-school Marxist Theodor Adorno’s Negative Dialectics. becomes a theory of its reproduction.â•›If anything. whereas all of the objectivists agree that Marx is deeply indebted to Hegel.╇ Negri 1988. ‘Clearly. ‘The focus in Marx is always the actuality and the determinacy of the antagonism’. always problematic. These regularities refer to the regular (but contradictory) pattern of the reproduction of capital. from being a theory of the destruction of capitalist society.â•›.â•›By a strange twist.26  •  Introduction that capital is in control of modern society. Antonio Negri writes.╇ As Holloway 2002. p. whereas the objectivists emphasise Marx’s contributions to economics and the intersections between philosophy and economics.â•›.86 Third. profit and wage continue to exist.╇ Holloway 2002. Negri argues that Marx’s thought draws most of all from the preKantian philosophy of Spinoza. pp. the marketing of labour-power today has become a totally political operation’. 221. 224–5. 87. rather the constitution of those forms is itself a class struggle’.â•›. the autonomists often see Marx’s philosophical lineage quite differently. not on positivity but on negativityâ•›. pp. not creative force.â•›The attempts to use Marx’s own categories to develop a theory of capitalist reproduction are.84 Second. but they exist only as quantities regulated by a relation of powerâ•›.85 John Holloway develops these issues as follows: The defining feature of Marxist economics is the idea that capitalism can be understood in terms of certain regularities (the so-called laws of motion of capitalist development). however. Marxism. they argue that it is an inherently unstable and antagonistic form constantly torn between the drive to augment value and the struggles that resist value-production. 143 puts it: ‘Class struggle does not take place within the constituted forms of capitalist social relations. the autonomists see Marx’s project primarily in political terms. 136.╇ Negri 1988. and Marxist economics focuses on the study of capital and its contradictory reproductionâ•›. 134.â•›. in so far as the categories of Marxism derive from a quite different question.

. p.92 What many find forbidding about this work – what Marx once called ‘its sauerkraut and carrots shapelessness’ – is seen by Negri as a virtue. 91.â•›. to annihilate subjectivity in objectivity. to subject the subversive capacity of the proletariat to the reorganizing and repressive intelligence of capitalist power. 12.88 Negri’s influential work consists of a close analysis of Marx’s Grundrisse. according to Negri) that money can serve as a universal equivalent of commodity-exchange only if living labour is already subsumed by a disembodied abstraction. Marx makes it clear (more so than in Capital. pp. I will focus on what many consider a defining text of the tendency: Antonio Negri’s Marx Beyond Marx: Lessons on the ‘Grundrisse’. Money conceals this process. writes Negri.93 Although the book begins with a lengthy chapter on ‘Money’. we cannot say the same of the reverse movement. Marx’s massive ninehundred-page tome was unknown prior to the 1930s.╇ I have addressed Holloway’s work in more detail elsewhere. 18–19.â•›the categories are not flattened out. This is most directly seen in how ‘in the Grundrisse work appears as immediately abstract labour’.â•›.89 It is a counter to what he considers ‘the blind objectivism of a certain Marxist tradition’. since (as Marx put it) ‘all inherent contradictions of bourgeois society appear extinguished in money relations as conceived in a simple 88.╇ Negri 1984. his ‘rough draft’ of Capital which was written in 1857–8. See Hudis 2004b. and it has long been considered one of Marx’s most enigmatic and difficult texts. 90. Negri focuses on this work because it is ‘the point where the objective analysis of capital and the subjective analysis of class behavior come together’.90 As he sees it. since it allows the antagonistic and unstable nature of the Marxian value-categories to come more readily to the fore.╇ Negri 1984. the imagination does not stagnate’.â•›.â•›Capital is this text which served to reduce critique to economic theory. is ‘an essentially open workâ•›.╇ Negri 1984. 9. 10.â•›. 92. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  27 Since the writings of the autonomist Marxists are numerous and diverse. 93. p.╇ Negri 1984. 13. p.91 The Grundrisse.╇ Negri 1984. The Grundrisse represents the summit of Marx’s revolutionary thoughtâ•›. 89. the Grundrisse is superior to Capital because the latter suffers from precisely what the Unoists and the theorists of systematic dialectics find attractive in it – ‘a certain objectivism’ in which economic categories take on a life of their own: The movement of the Grundrisse toward Capital is a happy process. p.

including such abstract ones as money. In Capital. Negri writes.â•›.95 Negri argues that this subject-object dynamic is especially pronounced in Marx’s theory of crisis. capitalism is unable to extract as much surplusvalue as previously. 73. but also to the rising organic composition of capital. the amount of value-creating labour declines relative to constant capital. but abstract labour is produced in the same instant as concrete labour by the living labourer. there are ‘rigid limits’ beyond which necessary labour cannot be further reduced. The subjectivity of the labourer can therefore never be abstracted from the logic of capital. In the Grundrisse. p. p. However. therefore. precipitating a decline in profit-rates. one of the most lucid Marxist intuitions of the intensification of the class struggle in the course of capitalist development’. since it attributes the decline in profit rates to purely objective factors. Capital nevertheless pushes against this rigid limit. Marx further developed his concept of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline in what was to become Capital. As capitalists invest in greater amounts of technology and labour-saving devices. ‘Marx characterizes the working class as a solid subjectivityâ•›. and the labourers respond by intensifying their resistance to the drive to diminish the sphere of necessary labour. 172. 101. he contends.94 Negri contends that Marx’s genius is expressed in his ability to analyse the fetishised forms of money in light of the hidden social relations of labour. Capitalists try to maintain or boost profit-rates by increasing the proportion of surplus-labour (labour-time that is beyond that needed to reproduce the labourer) relative to necessary labour (labour-time needed to reproduce the labourer). p. Negri finds this to be a step backwards from the Grundrisse.╇ Negri 1984.â•›its essence as creator of value is engaged in a continual struggle’. leading to a decline in the rate of profit. since capital needs the living labourer to produce value.28  •  Introduction form’. Volume III. Central to this theory of crisis is the concept of the tendency for the rate of profit to decline.â•›.â•›. ‘The law of the tendency to decline represents. the decline in profit-rates is not treated as a function of quasi-automatic economic laws operating on their own.â•›as an historical and social essenceâ•›. which was first formulated in the Grundrisse. Money can become the universal equivalent only if concrete labour is subsumed by abstract labour. Negri writes. .â•›.╇ Negri 1984. Negri concludes. 95. There. An internal tension is built into all of Marx’s value-theoretical categories.96 As Negri acknowledges. As a result. 96.╇ Marx 1986a. Marx ties the decline not only to the contradiction between necessary and surplus-labour. ‘The entire relation will be dislocated 94.

he argues. p. 124.â•›. constituent power finds its creative massification’. 32. dominated by capital. than the discussion of the cooperative form of labour. p. The centralisation of capital necessitates a greater socialisation of labour. since the last chapter of the Grundrisse also ties the decline in the rate of profit to such ‘objective’ and ‘economic’ factors as the organic composition of capital. Negri holds. must emerge.’98 Living labour develops from being a component part of capital to taking on ‘constituent power’.╇ Ibid. however. 101. capital cannot ‘self-expand’ unless labour does as well: ‘The other subject. Although the term ‘constituent power’ is not found in Marx Beyond Marx. It is an approach that ‘eliminates the class struggle as a fundamental and rigid variable’.╇ Negri 1984. ╇ 98.â•›. Hence. the more they learn how to cooperatively battle capital: ‘This objective process. Negri’s later use of this term flows directly from this earlier work’s discussion of the cooperative form of labour. p.97 No part of the Grundrisse better exemplifies Marx’s prioritisation of subjective resistance. In his more recent work ‘constituent power’ is not restricted by Negri to the industrial working class. the worker. 100. 123. p.101 ╇ 97. This ‘power is established politically on that social cooperation that is congenital to living labourâ•›. which informs all of his later work. but is applied to the ‘multitude’ that resists the dominating framework of ‘Empire’.╇ Negri 1999.╇ Negri 1984. If capital is a subject on one side.99 This reading of the Grundrisse. takes Negri far from objectivist readings of Marx.╇ Negri 1984. . Negri’s claim is highly questionable. begins to reveal the new subjective level of the working class.â•›in the cooperative immediacy of living labour. we should recognise that all of the categories employed by Marx are twodimensional and inherently antagonistic. He sums up his position as follows: ‘In so far as we refuse the objectivist interpretations of the “school of capital-logic” – which infinitely assert the power of capital to possess and command all development – in so far as we reject this. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  29 on an economistic level and objectified improperly’. A qualitative leap occurs: the unity of working class behaviors begins to be self-sufficient. on the other labour must be a subject as well’.100 Instead of focusing one-sidedly on capital-as-subject. 132. ╇ 99. Marx indicates that the ‘real’ or total subsumption of labour by capital does not efface agency. The more that labourers are socialised. since capitalist subsumption does not efface its identity but just dominates its activity: this subject must emerge precisely at the level to which the collective force of social capital has led the process. it seems to us that we must also avoid the path of subjectivity which imputes capital to an objectification tout court’. since workers forge bonds of association and cooperation as they are brought together in productive enterprises.

while the second. According to Negri ‘there is no value without exploitation’. collective and proletarian planning of the suppression of exploitation. when the axis of power shifted from imperial nation-states towards an integrated global system. It also seems questionable whether the decline of corporate profit-rates claimed by some analysts has come as a direct result of intensified social struggles. etc. 169. p. especially over the last several decades. It is the possibility of a free constitution of subjectivity’. the domestic sphere.30  •  Introduction Although Negri’s effort to account for agency illuminates important aspects of Marx’s work. It seems highly questionable.103 But what specific forms of social organisation are needed to end valueproduction and capital? What model or arrangement of society can allow for the ‘free constitution of subjectivity’? Negri thinks it is pointless to try to answer such questions. 103. . Even more questions can be raised about whether the autonomist approach takes us further than the objectivists when it comes to envisaging an alternative to capitalist value-production. of its capitalist or socialist variants’. 83. however. Both changes. given the political quiescence that has prevailed in the dominant capitalist nations. they contend.╇ Negri 1984. Negri and Hardt identify two such shifts: one is the 1970s. one can ask whether his interpretation takes matters too far. since a new society can only emerge from the forms of socialisation and cooperation arising from spontaneous struggles: ‘In [Marx’s] materialist methodology the only kind of anticipation allowed is the one that moves in the rhythm of the tendency. The first came in response to the increased bargaining power and strikes of workers as well as the mass-movements of the 1960s. they contend. hence. as seen from his analysis of the major changes in contemporary capitalism. and the other is the 1990s and 2000s. a postcapitalist society is ‘the destruction at the same time of the law of value itself. represented capital’s response to intensifying subjective resistance. p. when capitalism abandoned the ‘Fordist’ model of mass-industrial production stimulated by Keynesian fiscal policies. that the move towards a globallyintegrated world-capitalism was a response to intensifying struggles by ‘new forms of constitutive power’. In Empire and Multitude. This is therefore a complete refusal of 102. came in response to more diffuse forms of resistance as proletarian or industrial labour was replaced by struggles of the ‘mass’ or ‘social worker’ – those employed in the service-sector. it is the subjective. Is it really the case that every stage of capitalist development is a product of heightened subjective resistance? Negri thinks so. It is non-work.╇ Negri 1984.102 A new society can only mean ‘the destruction of capital in every sense of the term.

╇ Negri 1999.105 The transcendence of capital occurs quasiautomatically. with no mediation between them’. after all. he seems to fall prey to embracing automaticity in another guise.106 ‘Exuberance’. 393. Although most of the re-examinations of Marx’s work over the last several decades can be characterised as primarily objectivist or subjectivist. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  31 utopia and a limitation on his research on the contemporary historical limits of capitalist development’.L. Smith does not agree that there is a homology between the logic of capital and Hegel’s logic of the concept in the Science of Logic. he does not have much more to say about a postcapitalist society than the objectivists do. 106. . Although he advocates what I have termed the objectivist position of systematic dialectics. In contrast to all of the objectivists reviewed in this study. Despite (or perhaps because of ) his subjectivist approach.â•›. without the mediation of theoretical labour that tries to envisage future modes of social organisation. 105. it 104. he has major differences with some of its proponents.â•›.104 Negri and Hardt make this explicit in Empire by suggesting that the quest for a new society is so immanent in everyday struggles that there is no need to theoretically articulate an ultimate goal: ‘Empire creates a greater potential for revolution than did the modern régimes of power because it presents usâ•›. The picture of Hegel trying to deduce the content of nature and spirit from his logical categories is a myth that caricatures what we now know of his actual working proceduresâ•›.╇ Hardt and Negri 2000. and he also has a very different view of the Hegel-Marx relation. insofar as he thinks that an alternative to capitalism will arise spontaneously. Although Negri is highly critical of theories that emphasise the automaticity of capital’s self-expansion. who once proclaimed that ‘the new society already exists. from the exuberance of the multitude overflowing the boundaries of capital. p.â•›with an alternative: a multitude that is directly opposed to Empire.â•›.â•›. even if they share some similarities with them. He writes.╇ The same problem is exhibited in the work of C. 264. see Hudis 2005b.R. the work of several thinkers does not fall neatly into these categories.â•›Those who go to the chapter on the Absolute Idea looking for some metaphysical supersubject will be disappointed. we merely have to record the facts of its existence’. One such thinker is Tony Smith. James. He places much more emphasis on labour and resistance than Arthur does. p. has no necessary connection to thought – let alone conceptual thought that tries to envisage the future. For a critical evaluation of James’s legacy.

110. not capitalism’. An English translation is found in the Appendix. 216–21. Not unlike the autonomists. which centres on his concept of the Syllogism. 109.╇ Although there are few direct references to the last chapter of Hegel’s Science of Logic in Marx’s works. p. 108. p. rather. As he sees it.108 Through a close textual reading of the Science of Logic. pp. he directly commented. presents them as irreducible components. Universality does not ‘blot out’ the particular or the individual. since the latter does not blot out or annul particularity and contingency.╇ Smith 1993. ‘Absolute Knowledge. 31. the ‘Doctrine of the Concept’ [Notion]. but of the strife between the worker and the machine against dead labour’s domination over living labour. She writes that ‘Economics is a matter not only of the economic laws of breakdown of capitalism. unlike Negri and the autonomists. He does deny that Marx based his view of capital on Hegel’s logic of the concept.107 Smith does not deny that capital is a ‘supersubject’. ‘wants a totality that does not blot out the principle of subjectivity. Particular. personality. 29. he argues. . they have long been neglected. since Smith contends that the concluding book to Hegel’s Science of Logic.32  •  Introduction consists entirely of an account of the dialectical methodology used in the Logic as a whole. Therefore. 111. p.109 The implication is that we can gain greater insight into Marx’s concept of a new society – and perhaps even further explain that concept for today’s realities – by exploring more closely the actual content of Hegel’s most abstract works. she stresses that all of Marx’s value-theoretical categories are tightly tied to conditions of labour and struggles that challenge the hegemony of value-production. Hegel.╇ Smith 1993. and Individual – but. Smith argues that Hegel does not privilege any of the three terms of the syllogism – Universal. And this is what is termed socialism’. 140. pp. beginning with hearing the worker’s voice. which has been “stifled in the storm and stress of the process of production”. actually ‘provides the framework for comprehending socialism.’ Although Marx’s notes on this chapter are of considerable importance.╇ Dunayevskaya 1981. 18. This has important ramifications for envisaging a new society. she does not deny that capital is defined by a ‘law of motion’ that develops indepen107. including the conclusion of his Science of Logic.110 Another thinker who does not readily fit into the category of subjectivist or objectivist is Raya Dunayevskaya. below. like Marx. it rather enables both to be expressed and cognised.’111 However. which is completely indifferent to particularity and contingency. the logic of the concept cannot be the correlate of capital’s abstract universality. individuality. and at considerable length.╇ Smith 1993. on the concluding chapter of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. 29.

╇ In the 1844 Manuscripts Marx writes. p. p. she argues that the last chapter of the Logic.113 Hegel in fact repeatedly emphasises that the ‘Idea has its reality in some kind of matter’.) Instead of reducing every stage of capitalism to a response to subjective revolt. 71.’115 On these grounds. the ‘whole Logic (both logic and Logic) is a logic of self-determination’. but that does not mean that it annuls objectivity.╇ Hegel 1979.╇ Dunayevskaya 1981. she rejects Negri’s contention that Capital is more ‘objectivist’ and ‘economistic’ than the Grundrisse. p. p. The logic of the concept cannot be so easily reduced to the logic of capital. Dunayevskaya also has a distinctive view of the Hegel-Marx relation.╇ Hegel 1979. . She particularly calls attention to the inclusion of the chapter on ‘Life’ near the end of the ‘Doctrine of the Concept’ in the Science of Logic. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  33 dent of the will of the producers (Note her use of the phrase ‘not only of the economic laws’ in the above. but as a Universal which comprises in itself the full wealth of Particulars’. 58. 115. 759. 140. she argued (even more forcefully than Smith) that Hegel’s ‘Doctrine of the Concept’ does not annul particularity and contingency. even though she acknowledges that it analyses a chemically-pure capitalism. ‘In the last part of the work. See also Marx 1976e. See Marx 1975r.114 As she sees it. “Accumulation of Capital”. Moreover. she denies that Hegel’s Absolutes represent a closure or the ‘end of history’. is of great importance in illuminating Marx’s concept of a new society. See also Dunayevskaya 2002. She notes that Hegel wrote that his logic of the concept (to use his own words) should be viewed not as ‘a mere abstract Universal. Fourth. she does not accept the prevailing assumption that Hegel is an ‘idealist’ and Marx is a ‘materialist’. as we approach the most “economist” and “scientific” development – “the organic composition of capital” – Marx reminds us all over again that this organic composition cannot be considered outside of its effects “on the lot of the labouring classes’. 113. traces out the logic of capital as an objective movement while keeping his finger on the pulse of human relations. which centres on the ‘the negation of the negation’. she argues that the realities of our era make it imperative to return directly to Hegel’s Absolutes in working out a conception of the alternative to capitalism.112 Marx. the ‘Absolute Idea’. First. Second. She notes that Hegel has a materialist dimension and that there are idealist components in Marx. p. 306. 114. ‘Communism is the position as the negation of the negation’. 929. she argues that Marx has a more nuanced view that avoids posing a one-to-one relation between the objective and subjective. since both the 1844 Manuscripts and Capital explicitly refer to the transcendence of capitalism in terms of ‘the negation of the negation. Third. p. So imbued are Hegel’s 112. she contends. She writes.

deeper than ever was the Hegelian dialectic which had dehumanized the self-development of humanity in the dialectic of Consciousness. the ‘end’ of philosophy. 117.34  •  Introduction Absolutes with negativity that each high point is but the jumping-off point for new beginnings: Whatever Hegel said. he was not preoccupied with death.â•›. . Nor is Marx distinguished from Hegel in being an economist. the masses. whereas the subject in Capital is the human-being who resists capital’s ‘process of suction’. and meant. according to Hegel. 143. Dunayevskaya does not argue that Marx’s work is a mere application of Hegelian categories. There is no trap in thought. instead of a philosopher. Marx departs from Hegel over the latter’s failure to pose the labourer as the active subject of the dialectical process. it was precisely because he began with that source that he could make the leap to the live Subject who is the one who transforms reality. rather.â•›. 184.â•›. Because dead labour (capital) dominates over living labour. She writes. Marx could transcend the Hegelian dialectic not by denying that it was ‘the source of all dialectic’. Capitalâ•›. p. While he neither gave. Though it is finite. just because. the summation in which the advance is immanent in the present. and the labourer is the ‘gravedigger of capitalism’. the Subject – not subject matter. any blueprints for the future.â•›When subjected to the dialectical method from which. it breaks through the barriers of the given. This is because the subject of Hegel’s dialectic is disembodied thought. This dialectic is therefore totally new.â•›is the Great Divide from Hegel. Instead.117 According to the above interpretation.â•›. about the Owl of Minerva spreading its wings only at dusk simply does not follow from the objectivity of the drive. she argues that it also represents a sharp departure from it. Although Capital owes much to Hegel’s Logic.116 At the same time. Self-Consciousness. Reason. and not just because the subject is economics rather than philosophyâ•›. much less of the worldâ•›. surely beyond the historic moment. the conclusion turns out to be a new beginning. In doing so.â•›. p. no truth can escape.â•›It is that Great Divide because. Hegel is led to violate his own principle insofar as he 116.╇ Dunayevskaya 2002. totally internal. if not to infinity. but Subject – was neither economics nor philosophy but the human being. reaches out. nor was interested in. all of human existence is involved.╇ Dunayevskaya 1981. the problem that Marx has with Hegel is not that Hegel is an idealist who ignores empirical realities like economics or the labour-process.â•›.

He writes. Yet it is also possible. The tendency to fragment Marx by studying aspects of his work in isolation from others has not only made it difficult to evaluate whether or not Marx’s body of work is internally coherent. It should only be expected that Marx would be subject to such widely varying interpretations. that different philosophical tendencies can latch onto one or another angle of Marx’s thought because he was an inconsistent and contradictory thinker who invites divergent interpretations. it has created a major obstacle to coming to grips with Marx’s concept of the transcendence of value-production. however. pp. Since Marx never devoted a work to the alternative to capitalism.118 I would add that this also applies to many of the subjectivist theorists who cannot account for parts of Marx’s work that emphasise systematic and objective approaches. all of the objectivists considered in this study focus on Capital while passing over the work of the young Marx. It is possible. The philosophical literature on Marx over the past several decades clearly reveals a wide disparity of interpretations and approaches. What is clear. that many interpretations of his work represent ‘misguided attempts to reduce Marx’s varied strategies to a single 118. since it clearly contains not only logical but also historical analysis. according to the proponents of Systematic Dialecticsâ•›. Marx’s effort to correct this deficiency in Hegel leads him to posit workers as the actual subject. Almost none of the thinkers surveyed say anything about the last decade of Marx’s life. as Ollman notes. on the other hand. given the expansive and contentious nature of his philosophical project. Why Explore Marx’s Concept  •  35 is compelled to reach for an force standing outside and above the historical process – disembodied ‘absolute spirit’ – to resolve its contradictions. 183–4. . Except for Backhaus.â•›. when he turned his attention to the study of precapitalist societies.╇ Ollman 2003. emphasise the Grundrisse at the expense of Capital and say little about Volumes II and III of Capital. especially the 1844 Manuscripts. is that many of the approaches towards Marx settle for analysing one aspect of his œuvre at the expense of others. of course. the tendency to analyse one part of Marx’s œuvre at the expense of others has made it all the harder to discern whether he has a distinctive concept of a new society that addresses the realities of the twenty-first century. Bertell Ollman addresses this problem in noting that the theorists of systematic dialectics are unable to take account of the whole of Marx’s Capital. ‘Capital I contains whole sections that.â•›simply don’t belong there or are simply out of place’. Negri and the autonomists. and since any implicit or explicit suggestions on his part about an alternative have to be gleaned from a careful study of an array of diverse and difficult texts.â•›.

119 It is possible that Marx employed a host of argumentative and conceptual strategies based on his specific concerns and object of investigation.36  •  Introduction oneâ•›. and it is all too easy to fall into one-sided readings which fail to take account of his work as a whole. pp. if we cannot make sense of Marx’s work as a whole.â•›. is it really possible to discern whether or not his work contains a concept of a new society that is worth re-examining today? With this in mind.╇ Ollman 2003. with new eyes. it is time to return to the whole of Marx. 119. 187–8.â•›at the expense of the others’. However.â•›. .

. What normative standpoint led him to call into question the central principles and practices of capitalism in the first place? 1. the numerous writings composed by him in the years immediately following his break with capitalism (1843/4 to 1847) do not contain the extensive analyses and criticisms of value-production that defines his later work. Karl Marx (1841)1 Marx’s beginnings. and they contain little or no explicit critique of capitalist value-production. such as Capital. 2. One aspect is the values and principles that the young Marx upheld and brought to bear on his subsequent analysis of capitalist production. 42. p. he merely makes objective for himself the relation of his own particular consciousness to the real world. 1837–41 Two aspects of Marx’s early work are of concern to us here. Nevertheless.╇ The writings of the young Marx may not appear to be the best place to begin a study of his conception of the alternative to capitalism. Marx’s writings from 1837 to 1843 were largely composed when he was still a liberal democrat who had not yet broken with capitalism.2 It is hardly conceivable that Marx could have developed such a thoroughgoing and virulent criticism of capitalism merely on the basis of a descriptive analysis of contemporary conditions.╇ Marx 1975d. I will seek to show that these early writings constitute the basis of Marx’s conception of the alternative to capitalism that became fleshed out in his later work. Moreover.Chapter One The Transcendence of Alienation in the Writings of the Young Marx In the general relationship which the philosopher sees between the world and thought.

class-society. the 19 year-old Marx declares that he has now become committed to Hegelianism. If previously the gods had dwelt above the earth.38  •  Chapter One Why did he come to find such formations as private property.6 This conception of the idea as immanently contained within the real does not mean that Marx has decided to reject ‘idealism’ in favour of ‘materialism’.4 Attacking his earlier views as ‘entirely idealistic’ and ‘formalist’. 246.╇ Marx 1975b. p. See Hegel 1979a. an 1837 letter to his father. and the separation of the state and civil society so objectionable? An analysis of Marx’s early writings – including those composed before his break with capitalism – are of indispensable importance in answering these questions. Although his early works rarely specify the institutional forms needed to replace capitalism. alienated labour. After having been under the ‘spell’ of Kant and Fichte. The second aspect is the specific indications provided by his early writings. What drives this change of mind is his dissatisfaction with the ‘opposition between what is and what ought to be’. I will seek to demonstrate this by beginning with Marx’s earliest extant writings. p.5 He considers his prior philosophical standpoint. p. While I concur with this assessment. an egregious error and contends that he has now ‘arrived at the point of seeing the idea in reality itself. 5. but also that it should not stray away from them by catching at circumstances. 830. he proclaims that ‘the object must be studied in its development. now they became its center’. arbitrary divisions must not be introduced. Marx’s comment hews closely to Hegel’s formulation in the Science of Logic: ‘This is what Plato demanded of cognition. that is. As he writes a few years later in his doctoral dissertation on ancient Greek 3.3 Marx’s philosophical engagement with the social and intellectual realities of the 1840s led him to develop a specific conception of the transcendence of alienation that is of indispensable importance in understanding his overall understanding of the alternative to capitalism. 18. represents a kind of statement of philosophical conversion. ‘the most that can be extracted’ along these lines from Marx’s early writings are ‘quasi-institutional threads’. I will aim to demonstrate that these ‘threads’ are of considerable importance – both in their own right and for understanding Marx’s subsequent development. as to what might constitute an alternative to capitalism.╇ As David Leopold has argued. but should keep before it solely the things themselves and bring before consciousness what is immanent in them’. should consider them partly in their universality.╇ Marx 1975b. especially those composed from 1843/4 to 1847. examples and comparisons. . the rational character of the object itself must develop as something imbued with contradictions in itself and find its unity in itself’.╇ Ibid. p. See Leopold 2007. 12. 6. which counterposed form and matter. 4. One of the first. that it should consider things in and for themselves.

7 Marx is searching for a way to conceptualise the ideal as integrally connected to the real. several aspects of it are worth re-examination. The phrase is from Seneca’s Ad Lucilium epistolae. Whereas Democritus’s theory. p. Everywhere the paths to freedom are open’. p. 10. p. Marx sees Democritus as ‘throw[ing] himself into the arms of positive knowledge’ whereas Epicurus has philosophy ‘serve freedom itself’. Epicurus.â•›man’s nature is so constituted that he can attain his own perfection only by working for the perfection. 41. who focuses on the swerving of the atom from straight lines. where the passage is rendered more elegantly as: ‘It is bad to live under necessity. 68. Marx is drawn to Epicurus because he ‘applauds sensuous existence’ while highlighting the idea of freedom in his theory of declination of the atom. p. Marx’s interest in the relation between philosophy and reality dictated the subject-matter of his first theoretical work. emphasises chance and free will. but a truth’.11 ╇ 7. ╇ 9. This is not to suggest that the integrality of ideality and reality are the only normative concerns of the young Marx. See Inwood and Gerson 1988. but that there is no logical reason that commitment to one should necessarily involve commitment to the other. in which atoms fall in straight lines.╇ Marx 1975a. As he wrote in his very first extant piece. 40.╇ Marx 1975d. but there is no necessity to live with necessity.╇ Marx 1975d.â•›. ‘The chief guide which must direct us in the choice of a profession is the welfare of mankind and our own perfectionâ•›. This is but the first expression of a theme that will show up again and again in Marx’s work and which will largely determine his attitude towards efforts to propose alternatives to existing realities. pp. of his fellow men’. ‘Idealism is no figment of the imagination.â•›. 11. 8. his doctoral dissertation On the Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature.â•›. 28.╇ By ‘separate’ I do not mean to suggest that they are separate in Marx’s understanding.â•›.10 He singles out Seneca’s summation of Epicurus: ‘It is wrong to live under necessity. ╇ 8. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  39 philosophy.â•›On all sides lie many short and simple paths to freedom’.╇ Marx 1975d. His very earliest writings also display a powerful feeling for social justice. for the good. Although a detailed analysis of the work is beyond the confines of the present book.8 What is important to watch is how these two seemingly separate9 concerns – social justice and a philosophical commitment to the immanence of the ideal within the real – helped to predetermine and shape Marx’s approach to a host of different problems. but no man is constrained to live under necessityâ•›. 82. stresses predictability and determinism. .

p.13 His atomic theory posits the ideal side. 62. 51. with an eye to more contemporary realities. Figuratively speaking.â•›Epicurus grasps the contradiction at its highest peak and objectifies it’. Epicurus ‘has carried atomistics to its final conclusion. p. 14. 15. It is subject to ‘dependent motion. It cannot shine in the light of beingâ•›. p. as an absolute form of existence it is a citizen of the French Revolution. ‘according to which all relation to something else is negated and motion is established as self-determination’. ‘the concept of the atom and sensuous perception face each other as enemies’.’ to falling down.╇ Marx does make it explicit that his study of Democritus and Epicurus is driven by his concern with the fate of philosophy in the aftermath of Hegel in his ‘Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy’.╇ Marx 1975d.40  •  Chapter One What is perhaps more telling is Marx’s critique of Epicurus. that is. As one important study of Marx’s dissertation put it. while Epicurus strives to emphasise sensuous reality and freedom. not freedom in being. Marx contends that. Marx had in mind the contrast between material necessity and formal civic liberty.â•›. between ‘bourgeois society’ and ‘the political state’. who fails to posit the ‘ideal side’ – the principle of freedom.17 he is clearly exploring the aporiae of post-Aristotelian Greek philosophy. which is its dissolution and conscious opposition to the universal’. The atom is ‘the full’ as opposed to ‘the empty’: it is matter. 18. p. or.╇ Marx 1975d. Whereas Democritus submerges subject into substance. But at the same time as an absolute unit the atom is free and independent.14 Epicurus’s concept of freedom is that of abstract individuality: ‘abstract individuality is freedom from being.12 The declination of the atom is posed as an abstraction from determinant being: ‘The atom abstracts from the opposing being and withdraws itself from it’.18 12. 23–4.╇ Marx 1975d. 39.╇ Lifshitz 1973. 13. p. 17. Epicurus detaches subject from substance. 73.16 Although Marx does not always make this explicit in the text of the dissertation. as absence of pain and undue stress [ataraxy]. Yet Epicurus ‘objectifies’ a kind of dualism.15 Marx considers Epicurus’s position an advance over that of Democritus.╇ Marx 1975d. in that freedom becomes defined only negatively. In emphasizing the distinction.â•›. 16. the atom as an aspect of materiality is nothing but a bourgeois. in the language of the Young Hegelians.╇ Marx 1975d. but the contradictions of this principle were obvious even in this ‘atomistic science’. Epicurus had emphasized the principle of atomicity. pp. . 53. independence and hence individual freedom.

╇ As Marx puts it in his ‘Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy’. its objective universality is turned back into the subjective forms of individual consciousness in which it has life’. . p. which turns against philosophy. who have to represent an even worse function in the mystical world man of Swedenborg’. nail-.╇ Marx 1975d. pp. Reason and reality oppose each other as ‘two worlds’. ‘the ass is soon detected under the lion’s skin’. See Marx 1975d. 491.21 Both sides ‘place themselves behind a philosophical giant of the past’ – but. excrement-philosophers and others. 87. and Epicureanism constituted a regression from the ‘acme’ of philosophy reached with Aristotle. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  41 As Marx sees it. toe-. ‘The world confronting a philosophy total in itself is therefore a world torn apart. ‘The party of the concept’. when Athens was threatened with destruction. Post-Aristotelian Greek philosophy therefore typifies the pitfall that Marx had earlier indicated that he sought to extricate himself from: the separation of ideality and reality. tried to persuade the Athenians to abandon the city entirely and found a new Athens at sea. embodied in nature’. p.19 Marx is exploring this as part of envisaging a reversal of such regression: ‘The modern rational outlook on nature must first raise itself to the point from which ancient Ionian philosophy. In sum. This philosophy’s activity also appears torn apart and contradictory.╇ Marx adds. 423–4.23 He has not yet discovered what that new ‘element’ might be. He seeks a new beginning to overcome the diremption of reason and reality – although he is still feeling his way as to how to go about it. Marx notes. 20. so post-Hegelian philosophy constitutes a subjectivist regression from the Hegelian synthesis. far from reconciled to this situation. 86. He recalls how ‘Themistocles. p.22 Marx is. p. scepticism. 22. ‘one edge turned against the world. 23. the central problem with Epicurus is that his philosophy mirrors the contradictions of the modern world insofar as freedom and selfdetermination are posited at the expense of maintaining a substantial connection with the material world. ‘Thus we obtain hair-. begins – the point of seeing the divine. See Marx 1975c. battles it out with ‘the party of reality’.╇ Marx 1975c. 492. the Idea. in principle at least. Yet he sees the path forwards in ’turning’ philosophy towards the material world – in a way that would not represent its abandonment but rather its 19. 21. of course. the other against philosophy itself’. in another element’. since the unity of reason and reality proclaimed by his philosophy now confronts a new set of realities that it cannot account for. which turns against reality. The idea of freedom and sensuous reality confront each other as mortal enemies.╇ Marx 1975c.20 Marx sees this breakdown of Hegelianism as inevitable. just as stoicism.

in which the products as well as the actions of people take on the form of an autonomous power that determine and constrain the will of the subjects that engender them. 458.╇ Marx 1975d. it is a subject.24 In noting ‘there are moments when philosophy turns its eyes to the external world’. there is another concept in his dissertation that becomes especially important for understanding his subsequent development. 27. See Plato 1961a.28 Marx first utilises the concept of inversion in his dissertation. and it has a direct bearing on his understanding of how to posit an alternative to capitalist value-production. by Arthur 1986. Despite 24. those who turn away from philosophy in light of the ‘duality of self-consciousness’ that characterises the contemporary world. 491. 85. . which centres on a ‘turning’ from the material world to the ideal world of the Forms.27 Marx’s use of the concept actually predates Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity. ‘so that of every quality we can truly say. among many others.╇ This claim is made. shortly after Marx finished his dissertation. the particular reality by the idea’. A great deal of Marx’s criticism of both capitalism and speculative philosophy will centre on the notion of the inversion of subject and predicate. Marx concludes.╇ Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity was published in 1841. 26. p.42  •  Chapter One realisation. Although that can be demonstrated only through the course of exploring his later work.26 As we shall demonstrate. in the course of a critique of Plutarch’s Colotes.25 he adds: ‘But the practice of philosophy is itself theoretical. This concept is inversion. ‘the being of the sensuous’ is not a predicate. the concept of inversion – also known as ‘transformative criticism’ – does not figure in this early work of Feuerbach. It is the critique that measures the individual existence by the essence.29 Marx also discusses inversion in criticising those who adhere to ‘the party of reality’ – that is. Marx’s effort to discern the idea of freedom ‘in reality itself’ is a theme that will govern all of his subsequent work. in which the concept of inversion takes on considerable importance. p. 25.╇ Marx’s position on this issue represents a reversal of Plato’s standpoint. “It no more is than is not”. 750–1 [518c4–518d1]. However. Marx was aware of Feuerbach’s work from as early as 1837 and he made use of his Geschichte der neuern Philosophie in his dissertation. All philosophers have made the predicates into subjects’. Although many commentators assume that Marx drew the concept of inversion from Feuerbach’s critique of religion. Marx notes that in doing so Plutarch ‘speaks of a fixed being or non-being as a predicate’. p. Marx takes issue with Plutarch for writing. for to those affected in a certain way the thing is. 28. ‘Ordinary thinking always has ready abstract predicates which it separates from the subject.╇ Marx 1975c. but to those not so affected it is not’.╇ Marx 1975c. However. pp. 29.

╇ Marx will often make much of the correspondence between ‘inversion’ and ‘madness’. it nevertheless ‘makes real progress’ since it takes responsibility for developing ideas. that Marx utilised this concept from very early on – and not simply on the basis of such figures as Feuerbach. we may well say the madness. appears as such’.’ 32. Marx’s critique of politics and philosophy. young-Hegelian associates of Marx such as Bruno Bauer were fired from their positions in the universities.╇ The critique of subject-predicate inversion – also known as the reversal of ontological priority – goes back at least as far as Aristotle’s criticism of Plato’s theory of Forms. The choice was not completely of his own making.╇ Marx 1975d. insofar as the subject becomes the predicate and the predicate becomes the subject. In that month. March 1842 represented a critical turning point in Marx’s life because the increasingly conservative turn in the German (and especially Prussian) political scene closed off any hope of an academic career. instead of taking responsibility for developing them. becoming a radical journalist. Aristotle argues. on the one hand. in contrast. Marx writes that for this party ‘the inversion. pp. I call prior and more familiar in relation to us what is nearer to perception. pp.32 It is to suggest.’ that is. nor to be more familiar and more familiar to us. money is a ‘deranged [verrückte] form’ in the sense that it is the ‘most nonsensical. most unintelligible form. Aristotle takes issue with Plato for posing particulars as the dependent entities and the Forms as the independent entities. 60–1: ‘Marx here intentionally makes use of the ambiguity of this word which is innate to the German language alone. for it is not the same to be prior by nature and prior in relation to us. See Posterior Analytics: ‘Things are prior and more familiar in two ways.30 Marx is making a pun out of the fact that Verkehrtheit [inversion] is often identified with Verrücktheit [madness]. 115–16 [71b34–72a6]. and Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia 30.31 This is not in any way to suggest that the critique of an inversion of subject and predicate is original to Marx. 1842–3 Marx turned to ‘material matters’ following the completion of his dissertation by directly engaging in active politics. makes no progress because it imputes its ideas to ‘reality’. An inverted world is indeed a mad world. it is ‘pure madness [reine Verrücktheit]. The ‘party of reality’. p. 86. prior and familiar simpliciter what is furthest away’. in contrast. that particulars are ontologically prior. since it has a long trajectory in the history of philosophy. new censorship-restrictions were imposed. The critique of subject-predicate inversion is one of the major normative principles that Marx will bring to bear on his understanding of both philosophy and reality as he increasingly turns his attention to ‘material matters’ in the period following the completion of his dissertation. however. Thus. . The Transcendence of Alienation  •  43 the one-sidedness of the ‘party of the concept’. 31. See Aristotle 1984. See Backhaus 1992.

p. p. as well as by the actual social conditions. p.36 Although Marx had earlier expressed hostility to religion in his dissertation.44  •  Chapter One made it clear that he would rule in the name of absolutism.â•›. 39. . calling it a ‘bureaucracy of intelligence’.34 He opposes any form of presscensorship on the grounds that a free press is ‘the spiritual mirror in which a people can see itself. logical explanations for itâ•›. it is self-evident that freedom of the press has a justification quite different from that of censorship because it is itself an embodiment of the idea. 137. superficial rationalism’33 of the censor.37 his objection to linking religion with politics now became much more pronounced: ‘Just as you do not ask the physician whether he is a believer.╇ Marx 1975f. 38. p.╇ Marx 1975e.35 He makes a critique of religion on the grounds that ‘Morality is based on the autonomy of the human mind.╇ Marx 1975f. He contends that press-censorship is wrong because ‘Freedom of the will is inherent in human nature’. and self-examination is the first condition of wisdom’. p. it follows that ‘from the standpoint of the idea. a critique of religion. a positive good’. See Marx 1975d.40 Since ‘we must take the essence of the inner ideas as the measure to evaluate the existence of things’.╇ Marx 1975f.39 These political positions are underpinned by a thick set of normative or even ontological considerations. an embodiment of freedom.╇ In discussing the various proofs of God’s existence in the dissertation. p. or that it violates the greater good of the greater number. 151. 117.╇ Marx 1975e. since they essentially capitulated to Friedrich Wilhelm II without a fight. by suggesting that it is not effective. 154. p. Marx’s main political concerns in 1842–3 centred on a virulent defence of freedom of the press. 165. Marx does not oppose press-censorship on pragmatic or utilitarian grounds – for instance. Propelled by the philosophical problematic formulated in his doctoral dissertation. he argued that ‘such proofs are proofs of the existence of essential human self-consciousness. 40.╇ Marx 1975f.41 He develops this by 33. 104–5. and an opposition to social inequality.╇ Marx 1975e. The liberals’ response to these events was a great disappointment to Marx and his associates. 34. 37. He takes issue with the ‘shallow.╇ Marx 1975g. religion on its heteronomy’.38 He opposes social inequality – though this is not yet his main concern – by taking issue with viewing ‘freedom as merely an individual property of certain persons and social estates’. 35. 126. Marx threw himself into an intense engagement with political realities. p.â•›Taken in this sense all proofs of the existence of God are proofs of his non-existence’. 201. you have no reason to ask the politician either’.â•›. 36. 119. pp. 41.

â•›philosophy has become worldly and the world has become philosophicalâ•›.â•›. 202. 42. 1975g. as against something that ought to exist. not even the censor opposes freedom: instead. theoretical existence independent of the arbitrariness of the individual. indeed.╇ Marx 46.â•›.42 Since to be free defines our nature as human-beings. p.â•›. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  45 arguing that ‘no man combats freedom. Marx affirms the importance of laws and legal statutes on the grounds that they serve as the ‘positive. He therefore writes. as there is a universal nature of plants and stars? Philosophy asks what is true.╇ Marx 43. 191–2. 1975g. comes into contact and interaction with the real world of its dayâ•›. Philosophy does not exist outside the world any more than the brain exists outside man because it is not situated in the stomachâ•›. Marx readily cites such thinkers as Hobbes. universal norms in which freedom has acquired an impersonal. . 162. p. the time must come when philosophy not only internally by its content. It asks what is true for all mankind.â•›Since every true philosophy is the intellectual quintessence of its time.â•›. Its metaphysical truths do not recognise the boundaries of political geography’.â•›. In these early political writings. The censor affirms freedom as a particular privilege. The normative stance adopted by Marx in his early writings is that freedom is an ontological characteristic of human-beings. not what is held to be true. 155.45 However.╇ Marx 44. p. at most he combats the freedom of others’.╇ Marx 1975f. he is trying to ‘measure’ political realities by the ideality that resides within them. but also externally through its form.â•›. 1975g. legal statutes are adequate to their concept only insofar as they correspond to ‘the natural laws of [humanity’s] own reason’. 195. A statutebook is a people’s bible of freedom’.╇ Marx 45.44 This understanding of the relation of philosophy and reality also underpins Marx’s conception of law. ‘Is there no universal human nature. The ideality posited by Marx is that human-beings are inherently free beings.46 He adopts an attitude to the law and political actuality that is largely drawn from natural-law theory. clear. pp. 1975f. This distinction between particular and universal interests will later come to play a central role in Marx’s critique of capitalism. He asks.43 It is therefore not surprising that Marx returns – within these political writings – to the central theme of his doctoral dissertation: the relation between ideality and reality. not what is true for some people. instead of as a universal right. p. he proclaims his freedom in acting as one.

p. and Proudhon by early 1843.51 he remains a radical democrat. on the contrary. because it disturbs the ‘natural’ ability of human-beings as a whole to express their aspirations for free development: ‘Interest by its very nature is blind. ‘The legal nature of things cannot be regulated according to the law. Although he attacks ‘pseudo-liberalism’ on several occasions. it is lawless natural instinct. Leroux. 215–21. . Considérant. Despite feelings of sympathy for those of the ‘poorest estates’. 50. 261. p. p.╇ See Marx 1975h. He argues that ‘freedom of trade’ is a particular freedom that must not be used to measure other freedoms. Marx took issue with those who defend freedom of the press on the grounds of freedom of commerce – even though he had not turned his attention to economic issues. Grotius and Rousseau in discussing how natural laws are rationally ‘deduced’.47 This conception in turn serves as Marx’s standpoint for criticising the elevation of particular over universal interests – a theme that will become more pronounced in his later work. As early as his first articles against presscensorship. Marx had neither turned to a study of political economy nor had he broken from capitalism.46  •  Chapter One Spinoza. and can lawlessness lay down laws? Private interest is no more made capable of legislating by being installed on the throne of the legislator than a mute is made capable of speech by being given an enormously long speaking-trumpet’. 227. immoderate. but he takes only passing note of their criticisms of capitalism. the law must be regulated according to the legal nature of things’. Although he is still seeking to overcome the philosophical dualities criticised in his doctoral dissertation. That Marx remains within the parameters of a radical but not anti-capitalist critique of politics in 1842–3 has important ramifications for his effort to turn philosophy to ‘material matters’.49 It is important to note that. 173. he has not yet found the ‘new element’ upon which to do so. since ‘every particular sphere of freedom is the freedom of a particular sphere. in short.48 The elevation of the private over the general strikes Marx as unacceptable. one sided. 48. 51. His first mention of ‘communism’ appears in an essay of October 1842. but he mentions it only to dismiss it. It is not until late 1843 – when Marx makes direct contact with French socialists and members of secret societies of German communists – that he breaks decisively with capitalist society.╇ Marx 1975f. 110. 49. p. he does not accord them any special role in 47.╇ Marx 1975i. pp.╇ See Marx 1975d.╇ Marx 1975i. He writes.50 He appears to have studied Fourier. just as every particular mode of life is the mode of life of a particular nature’. as of the start of 1843.

and Machiavelli. 53. 9–60. which as a crude element of this kind could make a bargain with the stateâ•›.55 My aim here is not to engage in a detailed analysis of the Critique. nor does he indicate how political conditions can actually be changed. and Mészáros 1970.â•›. pp. Ranke. Marx’s critique of the Philosophy of Right centres on Hegel’s view of the relation of civil society and the state. Chateaubriand. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  47 transforming society. 54. represented a continuation and indeed culmination of the concerns that characterised his writings of 1842–3.54 Marx’s ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’ is one of his most extensive treatments of Hegel and has become the subject of a considerable body of scholarly work.â•›. he dismisses ‘material’ entities such as things and industry as ‘crude’. of course. However. Dupré 1966. since he makes no effort to analyse the political writings that precede the Critique. Marx credits Hegel with having sharply 52. Marx’s political-philosophical project therefore remains quite incomplete as of this point. p. Cohen 1989. 306. as when he writes: ‘In a true state there is no landed property.52 By ‘true state’. Instead. by engaging in both further studies of modern politics53 and a critical commentary on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. his claim remains to be substantiated. My aim is rather to draw out the central ideas of Marx’s Critique that help disclose the normative principles that he will subsequently employ in his criticism of capitalism as well as in his elaboration of a possible alternative to it. Marx means one in conformity with the idea of freedom. no industry.╇ Marx 1975j.â•›The state pervades the whole of nature with spiritual nerves’. The ensuing analysis will contend that Marx’s critique of the Philosophy of Right. since he has not yet discovered a material force that can realise this idea. . 55. while marking an important development in his thought. However.╇ See especially Avineri 1969.╇ Many of Marx’s political studies in early and mid-1843 can be found in his ‘Kreuznach Notebooks’. no material thing. Montesquieu. In this period. His effort to connect ideality and reality therefore suffers from a tendency to abstractness. in which an examination of the French Revolution of 1789 and the history of modern European politics play a central part. See Marx 1981d. The latter should not be viewed as a departure from his earlier political concerns. nor is it to assess the merits or demerits of Marx’s interpretation of Hegel. Although it is unclear whether Marx was fully aware of these limitations. Marx also carefully studied such thinkers as Rousseau.╇ Leopold claims that Marx’s 1843 Critique represents a shift in his concerns in that it reflects a growing interest in the modern state. in the spring of 1843 he decided to deepen his understanding of the problems associated with political reality as well as philosophy. he turns to the Philosophy of Right because it represents the most comprehensive philosophical analysis of the political realities that he began to analyse in 1842–3.

Hegel himself poses these as the subject. and the actual relation of family and civil society to the state is conceived as its imaginary activity’. 57. the objects. Hegel posits the state as an ‘external necessity’ that is above civil society – even though the ‘abstract’ character of the private sphere of civil society is responsible for the ‘abstract’ character of the modern state. is that Hegel posits the idea as the subject. Marx is not satisfied with simply criticising Hegel for presenting civil society as the expression of the state. ‘The idea is made the subject.â•›.56 In Hegel. 59. 11.â•›become unreal objective elements of the idea with a changed significance’. into independent entities. Marx contends. p. of course.╇ Marx 1975k. ‘the real subjects.╇ Marx 1975k. in Marx’s view.59 Marx sees a number of problems with Hegel’s inversion of subject and predicate when it comes to the relation of civil society and the state. governs the formation of the state. Marx makes a critique of Hegel for inverting the relation between civil society and the state. Marx means here. a result. p. it makes the state the active agent and civil society the passive object.╇ Marx 1975k. Subsequently the actual subject appears as a result. The answer. instead of the state as an expression of civil society.57 It therefore follows that in Hegel ‘it is always on the side of the predicateâ•›.â•›.â•›. 23. p. a product of the idea’. He asks why Hegel does so.â•›. Hegel transforms the predicates. . 60. He writes. Whereas civil society. but divorced from their actual independence.58 Marx writes. everything becomes a mere ‘attribute of the idea. Locke.â•›that development takes place’. whereas one must start from the actual subject and look at its objectificationâ•›. since the state is presented as the expression of the idea. 11. Third. the predicate as Marx would define it – the idea or the state. familyâ•›. if it is assumed ahead-of-time that it is an instantiation 56. The state necessarily becomes viewed uncritically. or Rousseau.â•›. which is why Marx objects to the ‘inversion’.â•›the real subject appears as something else. namely civil society. First.â•›. p. instead of as the predicate of the ‘real subject’ – living men and women. Marx contends. 58. Second.╇ Marx 1975k. 8. And since the idea is made the subject. Hegel adopts an uncritical attitude towards the state. Hegel makes the state govern the formation of civil society.48  •  Chapter One differentiated them – something absent in the writings of Hobbes.╇ Ibid. as an element of the mystical substance. although Hegel treats the state as an ‘organism’ (which Marx sees a ‘great advance’)60 he fails to explain exactly how the state is the organic expression of the idea. At one and the same time. their subject.

but it is an abstract subject in that it represents the separation or alienation of humanity from its communal essence. that Marx finds akin to madness. communal being – and yet the latter is prevented from being realised because of civil society’s fostering of individual egoism and self-interest. he subjects it to critical examination: ‘Present day civil society is the realised principle of individualism. over time. content are mere meansâ•›. He objects to the way in which the relation between subject and predicate becomes inverted in real life – a situation. work. Nor does such real inversion stop here. its product. it only discovers and formulates it’. p. The same is true of bureaucracy: a product of subjective human interaction becomes ‘a circle from which no one can escape’ – it becomes ‘the imaginary state alongside the real state’. 63. is the active principle that brings the modern state into being. 58. pp. the individual function into a society for itself’.62 The critique of inversion extends to Marx’s view of civil society. the state. As he puts it. Fourth. As a result. in presenting the state as the subject and civil society as the predicate. 81. human-beings. Hegel fails to explain what mediates their inter-relation. Marx may consider civil society the subject of modern society. the latter becomes a ‘person apart’ that dominates.╇ Marx 1975k. as its object.â•›. as noted earlier. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  49 of the self-determining idea. in Marx’s view. Although civil society. controls. must necessarily assume an abstract form as well. Although Marx views civil society as logically prior to the state. and restricts civil society. it soon becomes clear that Marx does not just object to Hegel’s ideas. Although the bulk of Marx’s Critique focuses on his disagreements with the Philosophy of Right. The law is a result and manifestation of human activity. it turns.╇ Marx 1975k. civil society also becomes a ‘person apart’ insofar as it is a product of humanity’s social.╇ Marx 1975k. the individual existence is the final goal: activity. while at other times he identifies such forms with the state. . on the contrary. 62. p. ‘In modern times the idea of the state could not appear except in 61.â•›Instead of the individual function being a function of society. it takes on a life of its own and treats the actual subject.63 For Marx. yet. 46–7. when in fact ‘the legislature does not make the law.â•›. Hegel at times presents forms of political representation as the mediation between civil society and the state. This statement indicates that Marx has not moved away from his attachment to natural-law theory at the time he composes his critique of the Philosophy of Right.61 This is also true of political forms of representation: the legislators present themselves as the subjects who make the law.

By identifying the state with the idea – with an abstraction – Hegel adequately conveys the abstract (or separate)65 nature of the state. but for presenting that which is as the nature of the state’.╇ The modern state. 63.66 He adds. instead of a ‘materialist’. and disasters. 66. preachers. is ‘abstract’ insofar as it is separate and independent from the social relations that engender it. the criticism never appears once in the 1843 Critique. See Marx 1975n. The view of the state as abstract has a long lineage in both philosophy and literature. p. hangers.67 Marx actually praises Hegel on many occasions in the Critique. nor does he coun64. Hegel expresses in thought the inverted reality of the social relations of modernity. for Marx. 69. bridges.╇ Sidney Hook entitles his discussion of the 1843 Critique in From Hegel to Marx: Studies in the Intellectual Development of Marl Marx as ‘Systematic Philosophical Idealism versus Scientific Materialism’ and states. but he does not accuse Hegel of justifying the specific political practices of the Prussian government. whom Marx considered an apologist for Prussian absolutism: ‘Schelling’s philosophy is Prussian policy sub specie philosophiae’. ‘Hegel is not to be blamed for depicting the nature of the modern state as it is. His philosophy thereby does a tremendous service insofar as it helps bring to consciousness the realities of the world of which it is the expression. and it all turns to smokeâ•›. Marx writes. See Paz 1974. wonders. Marx’s . p.68 What Marx’s Critique does not do is accuse Hegel of being an ‘idealist’.╇ Despite claims to the contrary by numerous writers. / the abstract state and its concrete police.╇ Marx 1975k. it would be wrong to conclude that Marx sees him as failing to grasp the realities of the modern era. Rather. ‘As contrasted with Hegel. 108.╇ Marx 1975k. p. / the shops that have everything. Although many commentators have presumed that Marx attacks Hegel for ‘inverting’ the ideal and the real in privileging the former at the expense of the latter. It hovers over civil society even though it is its product. Marx’s view is that Hegel captures the realities of the modern era all too well. He has done no more than expound the morality of the modern state and modern civil law’. 350. 65. 68. where they spend everything.69 Marx does not accuse Hegel of neglecting reality.64 Critical as Marx is of Hegel. no such claim on Marx’s part appears in any of his writings. Marx criticised Hegel for accommodating to existing reality because he seeks a philosophical justification for the relation of civil society and the state. the schoolteachers. Hegel creates a veritable monument to present-day reality in the form of a philosophical system.╇ Marx 1975k. p. Although it is a commonplace in much of the secondary literature on Marx to claim that he accused Hegel’s Philosophy of Right of being an apology for Prussian absolutism. It was not Hegel. tunnels.50  •  Chapter One the abstraction of the “merely political state” or the abstraction of civil society from itself’.â•›. 513: I speak of towers. Marx refers to this as Hegel’s ‘great merit’.â•›. 67. p. 113. but the late Schelling. Marx does not accuse Hegel of being an apologist for the existing Prussian state. ‘Hegel has often been attacked for his exposition of morality. jailers.

p. p. 88. written shortly after the Critique. p.╇ Marx 1975o. 175. always at the same time as an end. 71. 72. 164. pp. degrades himself into a means. regards men as a means. in which he acts as a private individual. That Marx was highly critical of Kant did not. 193–5. content’ as mere means to an end. p. 41. . The German Ideology criticises Kant’s emphasis on the goodness of the will by stating that it reflected the backward state of the material conditions of Germany at the time. instead of as ends in themselves. however. p. he criticises him for treating the subject abstractly – that is. p. whether in your own person or in the person of any other. That Marx made use of this concept neither makes him a Kantian nor prevents him from having serious criticisms of Kant’s position. it is not the only one. ‘An end which requires unjustified means is no justified end’. never merely as means’. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  51 terpose idealism to materialism. p. and becomes a plaything of alien powers’. The latter defect enables Hegel to provide an adequate description of the actual (abstract) political realities of modern society. Instead.╇ Marx 1975f. whose purpose is the life of civil society’.╇ Marx 1975o. work. See also Kant 1996b.’ See Hook 1968.72 This echo of the second formulation of Kant’s categorical imperative is no accident: Marx explicitly refers to the principle on numerous occasions. 154. It is an end in itself. he sacrifices his existence for its existence’. 74.╇ Marx’s first explicit reference to the categorical imperative appears in the ‘Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy’. This dubious counterposition of Marx’s ‘realism’ to Hegel’s lack of realism characterises many traditional interpretations of Marx up to the present moment. 473: ‘For a human being can never be treated merely as a means to the purposes of another to be put among the objects of rights to things: his innate personality protects him from this’. 80: ‘So act that you use humanity.73 The principle becomes integral to his ‘On the Jewish Question’. abstract materialism is the abstract spiritualism of matter’. See Marx and Engels 1976a. ‘political life declares itself to be a mere means. As far back as his 1842 writings on freedom of the press. For Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperative.74 In the modern world.╇ Marx 1975k. empirical yet hostile to the belief that ‘social facts’ exist ready made in rerum natura. it is so little a means for him himself that. See Marx 1975c. p.70 Marx does not criticise Hegel for treating reality abstractly. p. While inversion is a major theme of Marx’s 1843 Critique. 70. By his own acknowledgement.71 He added. 164. he writes that ‘abstract spiritualism is abstract materialism. mean he was not influenced by his idea of treating oneself and others as ends in themselves. Marx was a Kantian before he became a Hegelian.╇ Marx 1975f. his work contained almost no explicit references to the First Critique. if need be.75 On this philosophy of history is at once realistic and dynamic. Marx also makes a critique of modern society for treating ‘activity. ‘The writer does not look on his work as a means. 75. 439. Marx wrote. 73. see Kant 1996a. Marx refers to ‘life in civil society. Almost all of Marx’s references to Kant are to the Second Critique. as a mere embodiment of predicates of consciousness.

it is tempting to ask what he envisages as the alternative to its ‘abstract’ and inverted conditions. the individualistic and atomised nature of civil society needs to be changed so as to accord with the communal nature of humanity. 168. selfish interests. never only as a means. Human emancipation. he does write: ‘Hence law withdraws into the background in the face of man’s life as a life of freedom’. He states this principle as: ‘All emancipation is a reduction of the human world and relationships to man himself ’. Although political emancipation is ‘a big step forward’76 in relation to the despotic world of medieval absolutism. One. 248–51.╇ Marx 1875o. . the separation of the state from the citizenry must be overcome – not only through the development of representative institutions but also by the transformation of egotistical civil society. Three. 77. several points seem to be implied by his analysis. he underemphasises the extent to which Marx’s 1843 Critique suggests the need for a radical transformation of civil society. Other interpretations of the implications of Marx’s Critique for envisaging an alternative are possible. as far as I am aware. in his later writings Marx does explicitly call for the abolition of the state. pp. As I will attempt to show.79 76.78 Given Marx’s sharp critique of modern society in the 1843 Critique and ‘On the Jewish Question’. p. and the above is by no means an exhaustive list.╇ Marx 1975o. p. a genuine ‘mediation’ between a transformed civil society and the state is needed – as against the false forms of mediation suggested by Hegel’s limited discussion of representative institutions. 162. civil society is ‘freed’ from the state.╇ See Leopold 2007.52  •  Chapter One basis Marx contrasts political emancipation with human emancipation.77 What Marx draws from his critique of modern politics and Hegel’s Philosophy of Right is the need to transform the human relations that compel individuals to subordinate themselves to products of their own creation. it produces an ‘upside-down’ world in which ‘the aim appears as the means. for an alternative list of possibilities. 78. but at the price of turning political life into a mere means for the satisfaction of private. in contrast. Four. While Marx does not directly address the question.╇ Although Marx never uses. 155. transcends the bifurcation of civil society and the state – it is the not-yet-realised realm in which individuals treat themselves and their fellow humanity as ends in themselves. while the means appear as the aim’. Kant’s formulation ‘the kingdom of ends’. 79. Although I concur with many of Leopold’s points. political and social power should not be monopolised by particular interests at the expense of the general interests of the mass of citizenry. It is left unclear as of this point in Marx’s writings whether human emancipation would require the abolition of the state per se as well as the abolition of the separation of the state from civil society. See Marx 1975f. Two. With political emancipation. p. Emphases are in the original. as is the case with modern bureaucracy.

41–5. See Marx 1975r. the universal and the particular’. ‘Only democracy. purposeful activity. in that.83 Marx therefore speaks of the need to ‘suppress’ the ‘prerequisite’ of civil society by ‘declaring the revolution to be permanent’. . he argues. See Löwy 2005.82 Although Marx will remain a firm defender of democracy for the rest of his life. 84. p.80 He will later use a similar phrase in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 – except that he will there refer to communism as the ‘solved riddle’.84 By the time of his 1843–4 essays in the Deutsch-Franzöischer Jahrbücher. it is because it was composed prior to Marx’s full break with capitalism. as well as his ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.╇ Marx 1975o.╇ Marx 1975k. he writes very differently in ‘On the Jewish Question’ (written only a few months later) in distinguishing political from human emancipation. in some passages. it states. 156. 81. conscious. in that by the time of the latter he spoke in terms of communism. but the barrier to it’. it first makes its appearance in ‘On the Jewish Question’. Introduction’. is the true unity of the general and the particular’.╇ Marx 1975k. Marx seems to remain under the spell of young-Hegelian assumptions – even while trying to become free from them. in objecting to Hegel for positing ‘self-knowing and self-willing mind’ as the subject.╇ Although the concept of ‘species-being’ is central to the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. instead. and not only democracy. At one point. Marx realises that a thoroughgoing social transformation is needed in order for society to become expressive of humanity’s ‘species-being’ – its capacity for free. we need to be especially cautious about drawing inferences about Marx’s view of an alternative from the 1843 Critique. p. he says he prefers that ‘actual mind [be] the starting 80. p. it elevates the particular over the general. 30. Instead. 163. 296–7. The Critique never so much as mentions either the proletariat or socialism and communism. therefore. 85.╇ In 1844 he writes. pp. p. as the expression of this abolition. 29. This does not change the fact that there is a significant difference between Marx’s 1843 Critique and his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. does not end the separation of man from man. This is not only because it does not explicitly address alternatives. pp. ‘The word “democracy” had for Marx a specific meaning: abolition of the separation between the social and the political. ‘Democracy is the solved riddle of all constitutions’. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  53 However. The latter essay. 82.81 The Critique also states.╇ Marx 1975o. were written at the end of 1843 and appeared in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher in early 1844. Most of all. According to Michael Löwy. Löwy himself contends that in the 1843 Critique Marx remains ‘ideologically confused’. and it knows itself to be this solution’. Political democracy. 83. ‘It makes every man see in other men not the realisation of his own freedom. ‘Communism is the riddle of history solved.85 There may be a philosophical basis to the political limitations in the 1843 Critique.

he now turns to ponder the future.92 Marx is clearly reaching for an element within reality that can realise the ideal – without putting aside the need to philosophically elucidate the 86. Despite these limitations. 88.╇ Marx 1975p. p.88 He says the task is to ‘develop new principles for the world out of the world’s own principles’. since through his study of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right he has come to a much richer understanding of the contradictions and defects of modern political reality.â•›. 87. He wants to ‘merely show the world what it is really fighting for. even if it does not want to’.╇ Ibid. Emphasis is by Marx in the original. As he writes to Arnold Ruge upon completing the Critique. 91. is shown by his ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. p.91 At the same time. and Marx published the ‘Introduction’ in the same issue of the Deutsch-Franzöischer Jahrbücher that contained ‘On the Jewish Question’. in asking what kind of society can overcome these defects. Introduction’. ‘Not only has a state of general anarchy set in among the reformers. ‘revolutions require a passive element. Marx contends. reality must also strive towards thought’. of which this was intended to serve as the Introduction. 92. only now mediated by a much richer understanding of the defects of contemporary politics. the 1843 Critique marks a crucial moment in Marx’s evolution. 142. p. As a result. enslaved. .╇ Marx 1975p. a material basisâ•›. 183. and consciousness is something that it has to acquire. He writes.╇ Marx 1975k. 182.â•›. The former was never completed.╇ Marx. 90. He does not want to ‘dogmatically anticipate’ the new world. p. 1975m. ‘Constructing the future and settling everything for all times is not our concern’.╇ Marx 1975m. 89.â•›It is not enough for thought to strive for realization. forsaken. This cannot be achieved without a philosophy based on ‘the categorical imperative to overthrow all relations in which man is a debased.89 That Marx is reiterating some of the same concerns expressed in his dissertation. despicable being’. 144.╇ This should not be confused with the 1843 Critique. p. however. Instead. He is not at all sure of the answer.54  •  Chapter One point’.86 This seems some ways from his later emphasis on stressing the material conditions of society as the starting point. but everyone will have to admit to himself that he has no exact idea of what the future ought to be’. he wants ‘to find the new world through criticism of the old one’. is to unmask and transcend ‘human self-estrangement’ in the ‘unholy forms’ of existing society. 17.87 So how is one to proceed? Marx reiterates his preoccupation with discerning the ideal from within the real.90 The ideal towards which we must strive.

╇ See Marx 1975d. p. 96. and the proletariat cannot be abolished without philosophy being made a reality’.╇ Marx 1975p. Marx has resolved – or so he thinks – the problematic that preoccupied him for years concerning the need to overcome the diremption of philosophy and reality. the nobility which burst forth from these toil-worn men’.96 Now that he has fully broken from capitalist society. whose membership consisted overwhelmingly of proletarians.94 Hence. p. With his discovery of the proletariat as the revolutionary class. and the ‘party of philosophy’. which turns away from reality. Marx’s ‘discovery’ of the proletariat in the ‘Introduction’ was affected by those experiences. p. – What was it until now in the political respect? Nothing. his critique of ‘the party of the concept’ and ‘the party of reality’ that he took issue with in his dissertation. which began later in 1844.95 It is important to note that Marx’s discovery of the proletariat as the revolutionary class precedes his study of ‘economic matters’.93 So what is the element within reality that is capable of realising his philosophical ideals? None other than ‘a class of civil society which is not of civil society. as some have argued. 86. 93. p. Marx for the first time directly meets with French workers and groups of German communists. His conception of the proletariat was part of an effort to resolve a philosophical problematic. For this reason he takes issue with two ‘parties’ – the ‘practical political party’. Upon moving to Paris in November 1843. he will utilise the concepts he had developed in his work of 1842–3 – such as subject-predicate inversion. . 94. 187. As he later wrote to Feuerbach. Marx’s wording here closely follows Emmanuel Sieyès’ phrases in discussing the third estate in Qu’est-ce que le tiers état?. which turns to reality at the expense of philosophy. a sphere which has a universal character by its universal suffering and claims no particular right’ – the proletariat. and the need to transform the human relations between individuals – as he turns to explore the economic conditions of modern existence. treating oneself and others as ends in themselves. an estate which is the dissolution of all estates. See Marx 1975l. 355. ‘You would have to attend one of these meetings of the French workers to appreciate the pure freshness. 95. Marx is reiterating. published in 1789 on the eve of the French Revolution: ‘What is the third estate? Everything. – What is it striving for? To be something’. 186.╇ Marx 1975p. ‘Philosophy cannot be made a reality without the abolition of the proletariat. let alone a ‘literary myth’. on a higher level. ‘as philosophy finds its material weapons in the proletariat. so the proletariat finds its spiritual weapons in philosophy’.╇ This is not to suggest that Marx’s discovery of the proletariat was purely a product of philosophical reasoning. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  55 ideal.

╇ 99. Éléments de l’économie politique’ – he sharply attacks the market. such as the Society of Egalitarian Workers and the Revolutionary Communist Society. 217.56  •  Chapter One Marx’s critique of economics and philosophy. not human relationship: it is the abstract relationship of private property to private property. He plunges into an extensive study of economic literature. see Löwy 2005. 100. the claim that the idea of socialism and communism was introduced to the workers ‘from outside’ by radical intellectuals like Marx – a notion famously propagated by V. not the deliberate ╇ 97.101 Exchange represents an object-object relation.98 As Marx comes to a deeper understanding of the nature of capitalism. ‘the mediating process between men engaged in exchange is not a social or human process. in April or May 1844. 301–591 for his excerpt-notebooks on economics from 1844. and the expression of this abstract relationship is value. These groups were distinguished from the utopian socialists in emphasising the need to abolish private property in the means of production through a social revolution. seeing in them ‘the social act which man’s activity is alienated from itself’. James Mill.╇ See Marx 1981d.╇ Marx 1975q. taking voluminous notes on Smith.╇ It is important to note that Marx never joined any utopian tendencies and groupings. It was founded in 1836. Say. pp.100 The problem that he has with commerce is that. 1843–4 Marx follows his 1842–3 criticisms of politics and philosophy with a wideranging critique of economics and philosophy. 101. though most were artisans and not industrial workers. ╇ 98. In an early writing that has often been overlooked in the critical literature on Marx – his 1844 ‘Comments on James Mill. pp. they were largely composed of proletarians.97 He also makes direct contact with secret societies of selfproclaimed ‘materialist communists’. In 1840 other groups of communists arose. In light of this actual history. whose actual existence as value constitutes money’.╇ Marx 1975q. Friedrich List. in which the subject has little or no say. 212. pp. exchange-relations. Unlike most of the utopian-socialist groupings.╇ Marx 1975q. Frédéric Skarbek and many others. Of foremost importance in this regard are his attitudes towards private property and the market. 212–13. beginning in 1844. 59–85. Chance and accident rules in relations of exchange. which he joined when it became the Communist League in 1847. Ricardo. p. For more on this period.99 He finds commerce and trade to be an ‘estranged form of social intercourse’.I. MacCulloch. he becomes more specific about what he sees as its problems. . and money. Lenin in What Is to Be Done – is especially specious. although he did work with the League of the Just. p. The membership of these groups was almost exclusively working-class.

written at about the same time.and exchangerelations against the normative principle. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  57 acts of human-beings. p. 221. 219. p. acquires for the individual more and more the significance of an equivalent’ that universalised market-relations emerge.╇ Marx 1975q. with ‘primitive’ exchange-relations prior to a developed division of labour. It is only later.╇ Ibid. are treated as expressions of an abstract equivalent – money.╇ Marx 1975q. when ‘the division of labour. ‘The relationship of exchange being presupposed. as he expressed in 1843. of the product over the producer’. 103.103 Marx is measuring market. in precapitalist societies. Wage-labour cannot become the medium of social reproduction under such a ‘primitive form of alienated private property’. Is it because of the nature of exchange as such? Or is it because of the social relations that they are the expression of? Marx provides a possible answer when he writes. since Marx must have known that exchange-relations long precede the emergence of wage-labour. no longer exchanges only his surplus. p. . 104. He mentions that. the material of private property. See Marx 1981b. Marx makes the same point in his critical excerpt-notes on Ricardo and Say. that ‘all emancipation is a reduction of the human world and relationships to man himself’. in capitalism things oppress people.╇ Marx 1975q. what enters the market is only the labourer’s surplus-product. ‘What was the domination of person over person is now the general domination of the thing over the person. the product. but conditions in which exchange becomes depersonalised. labour becomes directly labour to earn a living’. and the object of his production can become simply a matter of indifference to him.102 Whereas. 221. The equivalent now comes into existence as an equivalent in money. Marx sees this as an adverse development. so he too no longer exchanges his product for something directly needed by him. 392–427. 105. No longer is one person exchanging a surplus-product with another who has his own to exchange. since ‘The complete domination of the estranged 102. regardless of their material content and the needs that they may fulfil. people oppress people. What is not so clear from the Mill excerpts is why exchange-relations take on an alienated form.105 It therefore appears that it is not exchange as such that is the problem. pp. Now all products. which is now the immediate result of labour to gain a living and the medium of exchange’. ‘[T]he individual. At that point. Marx’s objection to exchange-relations and the market is clearly stated.104 The meaning of this phrase is not transparent. Generalised commodity-exchange therefore leads to wage-labour.

At the end of the piece he suddenly writes.â•›. p.106 In issuing this criticism. 109. the separation of private from general interests would be overcome. (2) In doing so I would have the satisfaction of meeting another person’s need through the objectification of my activity. he writes. pp. it is only in discussing this vision of a new society that Marx indicates that the limitations of the market and exchange result from alienated labour. In this way.110 How a major part of the piece is read largely hinges on determining exactly when Marx composed 106. Alienated labour reaches its ‘highest peak’.╇ This is how Allan Megill reads the Mill excerpts. ‘Let us suppose that we had carried out production as human beings’.╇ Marx 1975q. since the discussion here of alienated labour is very brief and in the context of a lengthy critique of exchange-relations. but gives in exchange what someone else has produced’. alienated labour would no longer exist.â•›to the personality of the property owner’.╇ Marx 1975q. (3) I would have been the mediator between you and the species – and so I would see the other person not as a hostile competitor but as a necessary complement to myself.58  •  Chapter One thing over man has become evident in money.╇ Marx 1975q. 110. Marx has not yet clarified the relation between alienated labour on the one hand and the market and private property on the other. 227. which is completely indifferentâ•›.’109 Curiously.â•›. as would yours. instead returning to the problems of exchange. ‘Our products would be so many mirrors in which we saw reflected our essential nature’ – because ‘my work would be a free manifestation of life. its specific character’108 – that is.107 He does not say much more about alienated labour at this point. Marx introduces a new concept – alienated labour. 219–20. when ‘he who buys the product is not himself a producer. ‘I would now enjoy my activity as well as its products. .╇ Ibid. He refers to it as ‘labour to earn a living’. 108. writing: (1) ‘In my production I would have objectified my individuality. (4) ‘In the individual expression of my life I would have directly created your expression of your life’ – that is. it is possible to read the Mill excerpts as suggesting that his main object of criticism is the ‘arbitrary’ or ‘irrational’ character of the market. I will respond to this below. since the products would express the specific character of my individuality. 107. However. Marx here clearly identifies wage-labour with alienated labour – a theme that he will further develop in his later work. 228. he ventures for the first time into a discussion of a postcapitalist society. It is therefore left unclear as to whether alienated labour produces alienated exchange-relations or whether it results from generalised commodity-exchange. p.

If he did so before writing the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844.╇ See Rojahn 1985.113 I will seek to show that Marx’s encounter with Hegel – as well as the concepts elaborated by him prior to his break with capitalism – had a direct impact on his understanding of capital as well as his conception of the alternative to it. it would indicate that there was an evolution of his thinking in which the question of alienated labour took on new importance. capital is the expression of ‘a special sort of work [which is] indifferent to its content. He writes.╇ Marx 1975r.111 The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 are the most famous of Marx’s early works.114 Although Marx has not yet developed his concept of the dual character of labour – the split between abstract and concrete labour – which will become so central to Capital (and which he defines as his unique contribution 111. 113. p. it appears from the most recent research that the Mill excerpts precede the 1844 Manuscripts. To see how they mark a further development of the project that he embarked upon from his earliest writings. 286.â•›. To take one prominent example. 112. it is important to grasp the philosophical underpinning of his critique of political economy as well as the economic ramifications of his critique of Hegelian philosophy.and exchange-relations as of equal or even greater importance than alienated labour. In the 1844 Manuscripts. As he writes in the Second Manuscript. there is no clear evidence of when exactly they were madeâ•›. It is congealed abstract or alienated labour. of abstraction from all other being’.â•›It is however beyond doubt that Marx read Mill’s book before writing the Third Manuscript’ of the 1844 Manuscripts. see Rojahn 2002. 38. ‘As for the exzertpe from Ricardo’s and Mill’s books. 647–63. although Hal Draper devotes considerable attention to Marx’s work of the 1840s in his multi-volume Marx’s Theory of Revolution.â•›.╇ See Draper 1977. Although there is no scholarly consensus as to the exact dating of the respective manuscripts. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  59 the Mill excerpts. Michel Henry provides a close reading of Marx’s debt to Hegel in Marx: A Philosophy of Human Reality while passing over its implications for the critique of political economy. he pays scant attention to the Hegelian inheritance. However. pp. of complete being-for-self. . he introduces the important additional argument that capital is not the congealment of any kind of labour. 94. 114. scornfully dismissing it as something Marx ‘sloughed off’ as he clarified his new world-view. it could indicate that he considered the critique of market. The two sides have not always achieved sufficient attention. For the shorter version of this argument. p. p. Marx follows the classical political economists in defining capital as congealed labour.╇ See Henry 1983. If he did so after writing the 1844 Manuscripts.112 At the other extreme.

it is noteworthy that in 1844 he already defines capital as congealed abstract labour. he argues.╇ Marx 1975r.â•›.â•›.╇ Marx 1975r. Private interest prevails over the general interest in the form of private ownership of the production-process. ‘The proletarianâ•›. as a subjective activity. The ‘materialist communists’ first emerged around 1840 and distinguished between private ownership of goods (which they did not oppose) and private ownership of the means of production. . we discover that in the production-process ‘labour itself becomes an object’. I will discuss the ramifications of this crucial distinction in the chapter dealing with Marx’s Capital. In doing so.60  •  Chapter One to the critique of political economy). pp. and by a one-sided.â•›. He therefore aligns himself with the main demand of the socialist and communist movements of his time – the abolition of private property. 247.╇ The identification of communism with the abolition of private property has a lineage that long predates the modern era. Gray. What makes this development possible is the separation of labour from the objective conditions of production.╇ Marx 1975r.â•›. becomes thingified. it is necessary to go deeper than the property-relation and deal with ‘the direct relation of the worker and production’. 115. 241. Fourier and Saint-Simon).116 The workers’ activity is reduced to an ‘abstract mechanical movement’. 116. As noted earlier.â•›. Pillot. Marx does not yet distinguish between labour and labour-power.â•›. As he writes in the First Manuscript. some of whom tended not to make this distinction.â•›lives purely by labour. To liberate the worker. p.â•›What in the evolution of mankind is the meaning of this reduction of the greater part of mankind to abstract labour?â•›. 119.â•›. Owen. labour as a commodityâ•›. and Charavay – should not be confused with the utopian socialists (who included Cabet.119 Labour. The ‘materialist communists’ – who included such figures as Dézamy. Marx brings a distinctive perspective to demands to transform property-relations by arguing that the abolition of private property does not necessarily lead to the abolition of capital.â•›Capital is stored up labour’. Marx views the predominance of the former over the latter as a violation of the communal or social nature of humanity. 308. 117. He writes. By tearing the labourers from their connection to their ‘natural workshop’ of the land.115 The worker is forced to live ‘purely by labour’ in becoming an instrument of production – a mere appendage to a machine. ‘The machine accommodates itself to the weakness of the human being in order to make the human being into a machine’.â•›Political economy considers labour in the abstract as a thing. p. 272. capitalism denies workers a direct connection to the means of production.118 However.â•›. 118.╇ In the 1844 Manuscripts. abstract labourâ•›. 244. The workers ‘own’ nothing but their capacity to labour117 and are compelled to sell it to individual property-owners.

‘In the wage of labour. It stands to reason.â•›. ‘The relationship of the worker to labour creates the relation of it to the capitalist (or whatever one chooses to call the master of labour)’.â•›. 1975r.120 Marx is now applying his critique of subject-predicate inversion to the labour-process.╇ Marx 121. the cause of alienated labour. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  61 reified. Although Marx begins his criticism by showing that workers are alienated from the product of their labour. instead of as an end in itself. 275.╇ Marx 123. Only then does it become possible for the product of labour to become alienated from the worker.124 The inattentive reader may pass over the fact that it resolves a conflict with which Marx himself has been 120. However. This necessitates the existence of an alien-class which extracts forced labour from the worker.123 Marx thinks he is onto something important here. . When we directly examine what happens to the worker in the process of production. 1975r. 280. he explicitly says it ‘sheds light on various hitherto unresolved conflicts’.â•›though private property appears to be the reason. that the workers receive less value in the forms of wages and benefits than is contained in the value of their products. once this premise is accepted. Marx writes. 124. 279. since they argued that labour is the source of all value. classical-political economy conceals what Marx considers to be the more important problem – the separation or alienation of labour from its own activity. By reducing labour to a mere means to earn a living in which all joy and satisfaction is banished.122 He concludes: ‘Private property is thus the result. p. p. As he puts it. just as the gods are originally not the cause but the effect of man’s intellectual confusion’.╇ Marx 122. It is not hard to notice the separation or alienation of the product from the producer on the basis of the principles enunciated by the classical-political economists. The very activity of the subject becomes the predicate – a thing apart that dominates and controls the real subject. p. we see that his own activity ‘is turned against him. but only as means to satisfy egotistical need. the workers no longer feel at home in their own labour. it is rather its consequence.121 The products of labour are likewise not treated as ends in themselves. he takes great pains to show that the source of this problem lies in the alienated character of labour itself. p. the labour does not appear as an end in itself but as the servant of the wage’.╇ Marx 1975r. 280.╇ Ibid. of the external relation of the workers to nature and to himselfâ•›. Marx also makes a critique of existing society for treating labour as a mere means to an end. [becomes] independent of him’. For this reason. 1975. the necessary consequence of alienated labour.

As he puts it. 1975r. However. 1975o. he notes. ‘when one speaks of private property.127 Much like the classical-political economists. The critique of private property still deals with what is ‘external to man’. ‘starts from labour as the real soul of production’ and yet never directly analyses the relation of the worker and production. This takes him to his theory of alienated labour. 1975r.╇ Marx 1975r. As he comes into contact with socialist and communist currents and engages in a serious study of political economy in 1844. He proceeds to try to comprehend the reasons for secular distress. Marx now realises that Proudhon fails to break from this inversion. the product of human activity. ‘All emancipation is a reduction. Marx initially focuses his critique of capitalism on the existence of private property and relations of exchange. 280.╇ Marx 128. .62  •  Chapter One struggling.╇ Marx 127. by presenting the predicate – property-relations – as the determining factor while ignoring the alienated nature of the workers’ activity.125 Property is. of the human world and relationships to man himself. In contrast to Bruno Bauer and the Hegelian Left. Proudhon is ‘dealing with something external to man’. As noted earlier. he does not recognise that capitalism’s property-relations are themselves a product of ‘the contradiction of estranged labour with itself’. 281. However. his first encounter with Proudhon’s work – which held that ‘property is theft’ – was highly positive. Classical-political economy. since private property is an objectified product of human activity. ‘When one 125. 278. p. p. Instead. 168. in ‘On the Jewish Question’ Marx wrote.╇ Marx 126. 281. p. the critique of private property does not satisfy the requirement of reducing all emancipation to ‘relationships to man himself’. Marx does not see religion as the cause of secular distress. one thinks of dealing with something external to man’. he sees that the existence of private property is a major reason for such distress. Classical-political economy reverses matters.’128 He reaches this view through a critique of religion. he rather sees secular distress as the cause of religion. However. Marx’s normative principle of human emancipation – which he reiterates in 1844 as ‘man’s relation to himself only becomes for him objective and actual through his relation to the other man’129 – drives him to look deeper than the property-relation. it ‘gives’ everything to its defence of private property. Marx. on the other hand. p. p. He now takes a very different view. sees the need to go much further. after all. For this reason. 1975r. ‘Proudhon has decided in favor of labour against private property’126 since he opposes private property.╇ Marx 129. As we saw from the ‘Comments on James Mill’.

as demanded by Proudhon. are a form of private property. one is directly dealing with man himself. for it anticipates the defects of many of the social experiments that will be carried out (ironically enough) in Marx’s name in the twentieth century. We have reached the conceptual pivot of what Marx sees as the alternative to capitalism.132 Now that Marx has penetrated into the root of the problem of capitalism. he has reached a self-clarification that was not yet evident in his earlier writings. since they are paid to the worker on the basis of the capitalist’s ownership of the products of labour. by ending the estrangement in the very activity of labouring. p. See Rojahn 2002. By the end of the 1844 Manuscripts. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  63 speaks of labour. p. 294. 133. I differ from Rojahn’s assessment: ‘The comments by which Marx interrupted his exzertpe from Mill’s Elements surpass in clarity most of the expositions given in the First. the ‘Comments on James Mill’ begins by taking issue with the most obvious. This new formulation of the question already contains its solution’. 130. he writes. Marx comes to this conclusion by proceeding phenomenologically. he becomes more specific about the postcapitalist society he is searching for. . As noted earlier. p. Marx writes.╇ Marx 1975r. a remarkable passage. The heart of the problem is abolishing capital itself. it is worth keeping in mind the statement from Marx’s doctoral dissertation that serves as the epigraph of this chapter. In fact. ‘the equality of wages. 45. Wages. 131. 132. phenomenal manifestations of distress in capitalist society: the inequalities generated by private property and the market. Society is then conceived as an abstract capitalist’. He has shown that private property is not the cause but the consequence of alienated labour.╇ Marx 1975r. 281.131 Marx’s process of coming to terms with the alienation of labour is a vivid selfconfirmation of his statement that ‘the transcendence of self-estrangement follows the same course of self-estrangement’. As he deepens his critique of capitalism on the basis of the normative principles projected in his early writings. he emphasises the essential determinants responsible for private property and the market.130 How does it contain its solution? It follows from the analysis that.133 This is. p. What Marx often presents as knowledge of the outer world can be read as a self-knowledge that he has obtained from his relation to it. It follows that equality of wages – as proposed by many utopian socialists – fails to address the issue of alienated labour.╇ Marx 1975r. 280. while private property must be abolished – since it separates workers from the conditions of production – that alone does not get to the heart of the problem. only transforms the relationship of the present-day worker to his labour into the relationship of all men to labour. In this sense. Second. in many respects.╇ On these grounds. and Third Manuscripts’.

Since Marx’s 1844 critique of Proudhon represents the first time that he has distinguished his understanding of a postcapitalist society from that of a fellow-socialist. its connection and community with other. Treating labour as an abstraction. in that it is at the same time known as an external existence. One form of oppression is ended by instituting an ever-more egregious form of oppression. yet. Hegel presents a similar dynamic in discussing ‘being-for-self’ in the Science of Logic: We say that something is for itself in so far as it transcends otherness. labour becomes treated as a uniform abstraction. if everyone is paid the same wage.╇ Hegel 1979a. the political economy whose principle is labour rather carries to its logical conclusion the denial of man. like property.134 In the name of ‘liberation’. Although it may not be obvious from a first reading. is ‘indifferent’ to otherness. however. Proudhon reduces property to ‘labour’: but he has failed to notice that this is precisely what capitalism does by treating ‘labour’ as a producer of value irrespective of the labourer’s actual human characteristics. capital must take on a material.â•›Being for self is the polemical. is precisely the problem with alienated labour. Capital. 135.135 134. which it seeks to subsume under its self-movement.’ Marx will later write that Proudhon makes a critique of political economy from the standpoint of political economy. Society has a whole now becomes the ‘abstract capitalist’. To ignore alienated labour while altering wage. although along with this return of consciousness into itself and the ideality of the object. the concepts that Marx employs in his critique are largely drawn from Hegel’s dialectic. negative attitude towards the limiting other. of complete being-for-self. wages. Proudhon is fulfilling the central mission of capitalism – to reduce labouring activity to an undifferentiated sameness by failing to take issue with the dominance of abstract labour. has repelled them and made abstraction from themâ•›. 158. we need to look more closely at the issue. p.╇ See Marx 1975r. Marx’s expression that capital is the expression of ‘a special sort of work [which is] indifferent to its content.and propertyrelations through the elimination of private capitalists does not undermine the necessity for a ruling class to impose forced labour on the workers. as self-expanding value. at the same time.â•›. First. They are made necessary by the existence of alienated labour. 291: ‘Under the semblance of recognizing man.64  •  Chapter One Two points are worth noting from this. the reality of the object is also still preserved. . indicates that he is utilising Hegelian categories to describe capital. are results of human activity. of abstraction from all other being’. externalised form. be it of nature or human sensuousness. Second. p.â•›. and through this negation of the latter is a reflectedness-into-self.

the negation of the negation: the latter is concrete. Yet this does not mean that Hegel was important to Marx only insofar as he helps reveal the nature of capital. The significance that Marx accords the chapter on ‘Absolute Knowledge’ is indicated by the fact that he devotes himself to a more direct and detailed investigation of this than any other single chapter of Hegel’s writings. the negation of obstacles to the subject’s self-development. care must be taken to distinguish between the first negation as negation in general. ‘Absolute Knowledge’. just as the former on the contrary is only abstract negativity’. For Hegel. the ‘Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic’. This is seen especially from his critical appropriation of Hegel’s dialectic of negativity ‘as the moving and creating principle’ in the 1844 Manuscripts. Although the 1843 Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right is lengthier than the 1844 ‘Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic’. as well as the Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences. He focuses on the concluding chapter of the Phenomenology of Spirit.138 In his ‘Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic’. and Marx believes that he has found within it the merits as well as demerits of Hegel’s philosophical system as a whole. absolute negativity. or absolute negativity. which 136.136 As he wrote in the Science of Logic. Hegel’s dialectic also had an impact on Marx’s conception of what is needed to transcend capital.╇ Hegel 1979a. Marx is first of all scathingly critical of what he finds in Hegel’s chapter on ‘Absolute Knowledge’. the transcendence of alienation.╇ Hegel 1979a. p. 138. . 830. 115–16. but through ‘the negation of the negation’. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  65 Marx’s employment of Hegelian categories to delineate the logic of capital will take on even greater significance in the Grundrisse and Capital. all movement proceeds through the power of negativity. The chapter on ‘Absolute Knowledge’ contains Hegel’s fullest discussion of self-movement through self-reflected negativity. Marx does not provide as detailed an analysis of a specific chapter in the former as he does for ‘Absolute Knowledge’ in the latter. upon the internal as well as external barriers to self-movement. by virtue of which a subject is personal and free’. In Hegel. 137. and the second negation. second negativity ‘is the innermost and most objective moment of life and spirit. the power of negativity gets turned back upon the self. pp.╇ This is true both of Marx’s early writings on Hegel and his writings and commentaries on Hegel as a whole. ‘But in all this. The negation of the negation.137 Marx enters into a direct engagement with Hegel’s concept of negativity in the final part of the Third Manuscript. posits from itself the positive. The actual transcendence of these obstacles is reached not through the negation of their immediate and external forms of appearance (which Hegel calls first negation). In the ‘negation of the negation’.

‘the products of men appear as the products of the abstract spirit’. instead of living men and women. Since Hegel presents the subject as disembodied thought. Hegel poses the transcendence of externalisation or alienation as the return of thought to itself – ‘Absolute Knowledge’ – and not as return of humanity to itself. He argues that the chapter shows that the structure of the Phenomenology is fatally flawed because the subject of the dialectical movement is disembodied self-consciousness. Marx contends that. even when the Phenomenology brilliantly illuminates the nature of real phenomena – such as civil society. Marx argues for a unity of idealism and materialism: ‘Here we see how consistent naturalism or humanism is distinct from both idealism and materialism. 142. as I noted earlier.142 As he did earlier. Marx is here clearly relying heavily on Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity. 334. 336. 332.141 It is important to recognise. does it mean that Marx derives the critique of this Hegelian inversion from Feuerbach. the work in which Feuerbach made much of Hegel’s inversion of subject and predicate. conceives objectification as loss of the object. Marx writes. that by inversion Marx is not referring to Hegel’s prioritisation of ‘idealism’ over ‘materialism’. nor. as alienation and as transcendence 139. p. ‘For Hegel the human being – man – equals self-consciousness’. however. .╇ Marx 1975r.╇ The fact that Marx is influenced at this point by Feuerbach’s critique of inversion does not mean that he follows all aspects of it. This is especially the case when it comes to the concept of labour. 140. the family.66  •  Chapter One represents a summation of the stages of consciousness traversed in the Phenomenology as a whole. 141. as Marx puts it.139 This dehumanisation of the Idea has critical ramifications for Hegel’s philosophical system as a whole. In sum. Marx writes that the ‘outstanding achievement’ of Hegel’s Phenomenology ‘and of its final outcome’ – a direct reference to the chapter on ‘Absolute Knowledge’ – is its treatment of labour: ‘Hegel conceives the self-creation of man as a process.╇ When he poses his own positive alternative to the defects that he finds in Hegel. the structure of Hegel’s philosophical system inverts the relation of subject and predicate. and the state – it does so by treating them as emanations of the Idea. the externalisation (or alienation) of the subject’s creative capacities is treated as mere objects of thought. See Marx 1975r. and constitutes at the same time the unifying truth of both’. p. Marx’s critique of the Phenomenology no more counterposes ‘materialism’ to Hegel’s ‘idealism’ than does his earlier analysis of the Philosophy of Right. Or. p.140 And since externalised objects are mere thought-forms.╇ Marx 1975r. Marx credits Hegel for his realistic insight into actual material conditions. What Marx had earlier pinpointed as the central flaw in the Philosophy of Right – the inversion of subject and predicate – is now seen by him as the Achilles heel of Hegel’s entire philosophy.

a careful examination of the text raises serious questions about this interpretation. who takes issue with many traditional readings of Marx’s critique of Hegel in Theory and Practice: History of a Concept from Aristotle to Marx. that he grasps the essence of labour and comprehends objective man – true. Marx rejected Kant’s a priori speculative philosophy.J. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  67 of this alienation. p. However. the above interpretation fails to account for Marx’s view that the Phenomenology gives a real account of human relations – labour among them. 107) claim. they argue that Marx is counterposing a ‘materialist’ conception of labour to Hegel’s ‘idealism’. because real man – as the outcome of man’s own labour’. p. so this remark shows that not only has Marx not drawn on that analysis.╇ Marx 1975r. as is the case with many in the idealist tradition.â•›Hegel and Kant failed because their philosophies were not empirically rooted’. Hegel was a most studious observer of empirical realities as well as of such disciplines as political economy. The servant’s labour is clearly material. Arthur’s work. not in a failure to deal with the latter. Marx’s discussion here renders implausible Paolucci’s (2007. but he has actually forgotten all about it and done Hegel a minor injustice!’ It is hard to imagine that Marx could have ‘forgotten’ that Hegel deals with non-mental labour throughout the Phenomenology – especially given that Marx directly refers to passages where he does so in the ‘Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic’ (see Marx 1975r. not the passages on labour in the Phenomenology and other writings by Hegel. pp. Hegel’s mystical idealist dialecticâ•›. Arthur – like many others before and after him – is conflating Hegel’s discussion of specific manifestations of labour with the structure of his philosophical system as a whole. 332–3. he has in mind the structure of the Phenomenology and in fact of Hegel’s whole [philosophy]. His idealism. ‘The only labour which Hegel knows and recognizes is abstractly mental labour’. 331). See Arthur 1983.143 Marx adds.144 This is often taken to mean that Marx is accusing Hegel of dealing only with intellectual labour. Rather. Moreover. When he says that the only labour which Hegel recognizes is abstract mental labour. . Marx does not accuse Hegel of having treated labour as if it were a thought activity. Second. ‘The first thing that should give us pause is that immediately after this praise Marx qualifies it by complaining that “the only labour Hegel knows and recognizes is abstract mental labour”. pp.╇ This interpretation especially characterises C.145 On these grounds. For 143. 67–75. So why does Marx write that Hegel recognises only abstractly mental labour? Nicholas Lobkowicz.╇ Marx 1975r. ‘In sum. As numerous studies have shown.â•›. not in terms of [a] dialectic of labour. resides in his conception of the relation between ideas and empirical reality. it is hard to imagine that Marx would have so superficial an understanding of Hegel as not to realise that the Phenomenology discusses labour in concrete terms in numerous places – such as in the famous master-slave dialectic.â•›. 333. not the corporeal labour of the actual process of production. he accuses him of having in the Phenomenology described human history in terms of a dialectic of consciousness. He writes. First. helps supply us with the answer: In short. 144. p. 145.

147 By conflating alienated labour and ‘labour’.â•›. creative expression of humanity’s ‘species-being’ and labour as the perverse reduction of such activity to an absolute abstraction – value-production. Hegel lacked access to a vantage-point from which to envisage the actual transcendence of alienated labour in capitalist society. Hegel sees labour as the creative self-expression of human creativity unfolding through the dialectical process of externalisation and the transcendence of externalisation. See Hegel 1978. By inverting the relation of subject and predicate.â•›. As Lobkowicz succinctly puts it: Marx claims that the very fact that Hegel translates the real dialectic of labouring humanity into a dialectic of mentally labouring self-consciousness is itself a reflection of alienated labourâ•›. p.â•›. As a result. 257–8. p.146 According to this reading.â•›of the alienated mind of the world within its selfalienation’. the problem is not that Hegel fails to grasp reality. Like the classical-political economists. and thus produce more unconditional dependence on the social system’.â•›Hegel’s description of history as a movement of mentally labouring self-consciousness is nothing but ‘the self-objectificationâ•›. Greater attentiveness to Hegel’s Philosophy of Spirit as published in 1817 might also have led Marx to rethink his claim that Hegel sees only the positive side of labour. The problem is that he grasps reality all too well.╇ Lobkowicz 1967. the labour becomes that much deader. it becomes machine work. 322. 148.’ See Hegel 1979b. his philosophical system becomes the expression of alienation itself. Marx was greatly indebted to Hegel for this insight.╇ Lobkowicz 1967. However. which were not published until after his death. the value of labour falls. by structuring his system upon the notion of a disembodied subject. Marx recognises that. pp.68  •  Chapter One what Marx wants to say is that Hegel’s description of the movement of self-consciousness is an adulterated description of the historical movement of labouring humanity. 147. Hegel’s First Philosophy of Spirit (1803/04) discusses labour in terms that are strikingly similar to Marx: ‘But in the same ratio that the number produced rises. In sum. Hegel writes.╇ Marx may have altered his view of Hegel on this issue had he access to Hegel’s early writings. ‘The labour which thus becomes more abstract tends on the one hand by its uniformity to make labour easier and to increase production – on another to limit each person to a single kind of technical skill. he failed to distinguish between labour as a transhistorical. Hegel uncritically accommodates himself to the peculiar social form of labour in capitalism. Hegel has provided a philosophical expression of ‘the general estrange- 146. Marx accuses Hegel of seeing only the positive and not the negative side of labour. 343.â•›. 248.148 Once again. p. . the skill of the single labourer is infinitely limited.

Marx’s analysis is no simple inversion (much less a Feuerbachian inversion) of dealing with labour when Hegel was dealing only with Consciousness’.152 Hegel’s philosophical system therefore expresses. For a translation of this document. p. Hegel’s Phenomenology. see the Appendix. He finds that the Philosophy of Right provides the philosophical expression of these limitations. p. He finds that the Phenomenology provides the philosophical expression of these limitations. 150.151 We are now in a position to discern the similarities as well as differences between Marx’s 1843 critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and his 1844 critique of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. as part of his effort to discern the limitations of existing political formations. 333. 151. In posing the subject of dialectical movement as disembodied self-consciousness. The inversion that Marx objects to is not that Hegel gets things upside-down by dealing with mental instead of material entities. the ‘gallery of images’ and entities analysed in the Phenomenology are treated as mere thought-forms.W. ‘Deeply rooted as Marx’s concept of Alienated Labour is in Hegel’s theory of alienation.╇ See Dunayevskaya 2003. is ‘the money of the spirit’ – ‘its essence which has grown totally indifferent to real determinateness’. 330. Hegel. the very economic process of abstraction that is at the core of capitalism.F. also links Hegel’s Logic to the ‘money’ of the spirit. 150 For all of its critical defects. written around the same time.╇ Marx 1975r. Since actual entities are treated as emanations of the Idea. 52. Marx contends. regardless of whether he is dealing with mental or material entities. 152. Raya Dunayevskaya argues. Marx’s ‘Notes on G. He objects to the way in which Hegel inverts the relation of subject and predicate. nevertheless grasps. .149 In doing so the Phenomenology provides the philosophical expression of the very realities that Marx is determined to criticise. he turns to a critique of the Phenomenology of Spirit in the midst of an intense engagement with economic reality. Hegel’s Logic. 343.╇ Marx 1975r.╇ Marx 1975r. Marx argues. Marx turns to a critique of the Philosophy of Right in the midst of an intense engagement with political reality. in an ‘estranged’ form. Marx writes. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  69 ment of the human being and therefore also of human thought’. as part of his effort to discern the limits of existing economic formations. Hegel has ‘brought these together and presented them as moments of the abstractionprocess’. the ‘essence of labour’ and ‘objective man’. p. p. Understanding the reason why Marx accuses Hegel of knowing ‘only abstractly mental labour’ is of critical importance in pinpointing exactly what he objects to in Hegel. 149. In 1844. Hegel adopts an uncritical attitude towards them. Phenomenology of Spirit’.

â•›. Only then would there arise ‘positive Humanism.â•›. Whether this type of communism is ‘democratic or despotic’ makes little difference: it is defective because it is infected with its opposite in focusing exclusively on the question of property. 306. 155. of the transcendence of alienation through double negation.154 This ‘vulgar communist’ negation of private property must itself be negated in order to reach liberation. that the transcendence of alienation is reached as a result of a movement through second negativity.╇ Marx 1975r.70  •  Chapter One However. p. beginning from itself’. which does not intimate a transcendence of capitalist alienation. To abolish capital the negation of private property must itself be negated. he never suggests that it intimates the transcendence of such realities. He calls it ‘the abstract negation of the entire world of culture and civilization’. after issuing such a sharp criticism of him in 1843.155 It is on this issue of the negation of the negation that Marx parts company with Feuerbach. . a sham universality’. Yet this negation by no means ensures liberation.â•›only a retrogression.â•›. ‘estranged’ as it is. beginning from itself’. For this reason. Marx argues that it contains a key-insight: namely. ‘this type of abolition of private property isâ•›. etc.153 Marx appropriates Hegel’s discussion of the dialectic of negativity in the Phenomenology and Encyclopedia by arguing that the first negation is the abolition of private property. Although Marx credits the Philosophy of Right with expressing the alienated nature of modern politics. there is also a critical difference between Marx’s attitude towards the Philosophy of Right and the Phenomenology of Spirit. 295.╇ This crucial difference between Marx’s critique of the Philosophy of Right and the Phenomenology of Spirit helps explain why he felt the need to return to a close textual engagement with Hegel in 1844. Marx calls genuine communism (which he equates to ‘a thoroughgoing Naturalism or Humanism’) ‘the position as the negation of the negation’. it is circumscribed by the limits of its subject-matter – Hegel’s political theory. who rejected the concept tout court as a mystical abstraction that has no bearing on reality. Marx sees in this an ‘estranged insight’ that points to an alternative to capitalism – ‘positive humanism. on the contrary. Despite the importance of his critique of the Philosophy of Right.â•›.â•›But because Hegel has conceived 153. Instead of completely rejecting the concept of self-movement through second negativity. Marx returns to ‘settle accounts’ with Hegel in 1844 because the Phenomenology discloses something that is not found in the Philosophy of Right – an intimation. Marx writes: Feuerbach thus conceives the negation of the negation only as the contradiction of philosophy with itself – as the philosophy which affirms Theology (the transcendent.) after having denied itâ•›.╇ Marx 1975r. 154. It is a very different question when it comes to the Phenomenology. p.

Negation of the Negation. Marx singles it out as a conceptual determinant underpinning that chapter and the Phenomenology of Spirit as a whole.â•›. p. this same concept of the transcendence of alienation through double negation expresses the path to freedom – which he refers to as the ‘return of man from religion. Self-transcending mediation. simple. p. . Externalisation. 160. family.╇ Marx 1975r. Particularity..â•›. What he praises is nothing less than Hegel’s concept of the transcendence157 of alienation through second negativity: Supersession as an objective movement of retracting the alienation into self. expressed within the estrangement. 336. Concept.160 Marx’s intense focus on Hegel’s concept of ‘the negation of the negation’ is also evident in his Excerpt-Notes on the chapter ‘Absolute Knowledge’. Immediacy. Being in itself. In either case. though only as an abstract. 341.e.158 Marx contends that the transcendence of alienation in Hegel represents the mere return of thought to itself because Hegel treats the subject of the dialectic as disembodied self-consciousness. Differentiation.156 Marx then writes.╇ Aufhebung is sometimes translated as ‘sublation’ instead of ‘transcendence’. it refers to a state in which something is both ‘negated’ and ‘preserved’ in the sense of ‘raised to a higher level’. transcended opposition. etc. Essence. 329.. and speculative expression.╇ Marx 1975r. Mediation.╇ Marx 1975r. Unity. Individuality. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  71 the negation of the negation from the point of view of the positive relation inherent in it. 297. to his human. to that extent he has discovered. 159. ‘It is now time to formulate the positive aspects of the Hegelian dialectic within the realm of estrangement’.╇ Marx 1975r. social existence’. Universality. concerning the appropriation of the objective essence through the supersession of its estrangement: it is the estranged insight into the real objectification of man. composed around the same time as the 1844 ‘Critique’. differentiated. i. state. 156. Marx holds that when this defect is corrected by treating ‘real corporeal man’159 as the subject of the dialectic. However. p. into the real appropriation of his objective essence through the annihilation of the estranged character of the objective worldâ•›. This is the insight. the movement of historyâ•›. logical.â•›. He summarises the chapter on ‘Absolute Knowledge’ as follows: Being. Although Hegel actually never explicitly mentions the term ‘negation of the negation’ in the chapter on ‘Absolute Knowledge’. In-and-for-itself.â•›. Return to itself from externalization. In-itself. For-itself. 158. Position. p. 157. Self-differentiation. Negation.

Concept. It merely replaces private ownership with collective ownership. Consciousness. 163. the extent to which the human essence has become nature to man. so in the man/woman relation the domination of women is not abolished. but extended to all men’. p.72  •  Chapter One Identity.╇ Marx 1975r. Syllogism. reduced to an observable fact. since the negation of the other fails to free itself from its presuppositions. whether in the factory or the family.161 Most critically of all. For this reason he concludes this section of the 1844 Manuscripts by writing that genuine ‘communism is the position as the negation of the negation’. therefore.165 161. But it is a mere ‘abstract negation’164 because it fails to liberate women from being owned.╇ Marx 1975r. Judgment. ‘abstract negation’ corresponds to the first negation. Marx is specifying the shortcomings of stopping short of the negation of the negation. This is especially seen in his discussion of man/woman relations. Just as in the labour-process ‘the category of the worker is not done away with. 217. From this relationship one can therefore judge man’s whole level of development. Genuine communism for Marx does not consist of the mere abolition of private property in either the sphere of material production or sexual reproduction. In Hegelian dialectics. by attacking the idea of the communal possession of women. Logic. 294. from being treated as sexual objects. First negativity remains dependent on its object of critique. remains dependent on its object of critique insofar as it presupposes that having is more important than being. Genuine communism represents the negation of that very negation. below. Taking off from an insight voiced by Fourier. Negativity. . The latter is concrete or absolute negativity. but becomes extended to all women. Pure Consciousness. 295.╇ Marx 1975r. The initial negation of private property. 164. Negation. p. p.’162 He quickly moves beyond Fourier’s position.╇ Marx 1975r. In subjecting the crude communists to critique for favouring the community of women. He contends that ‘this idea of the community of women gives away the secret of this as yet completely crude and thoughtless communism. pp. Marx’s intense focus on Hegel’s concept of self-movement through second negativity leads him to posit a vision of a new society that surpasses the limitations of other radicals on the scene at the time. however. 306. or to which nature to him has become the human essence of man. 165. Nature. he argues that ‘In this relationship. Self-Consciousness.╇ See the Appendix. Spirit. is sensuously manifested. p. 162. 295–6.’163 Marx says the ‘crude communist’ attempt to replace private ownership of women by the patriarchal family with their collective ownership by a community does posit a ‘negation’ of traditional social formations.

Lukács likewise fails to single out Marx’s praise of Hegel’s discussion of the supersession of alienation. Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts projects a truly new and revolutionary world-conception. 168. necessary as that is. he fails to connect it to Marx’s critical appropriation of Hegel’s concept of the negation of the negation. which contends that Entäusserung is the ‘central philosophical concept’ of both Hegel’s Phenomenology and Marx’s appropriation of Hegel’s dialectic. who rejects Hegel on the grounds that he posits positivity as a result of a logical movement.╇ Stathis Kouvelakis therefore makes a highly questionable assertion when he writes. a purely speculative. . Murray places great emphasis on Marx’s critique of Hegel’s Logic for representing ‘the money of the spirit’. ‘As for the philosophy that culminates in the Hegelian system. that is. Marx finds in this very movement an ‘estranged’ insight into how ‘positive humanism’ – a world free from alienation – actually comes into being. as a process of permanent revolution. pp. he appropriates Hegel’s concept of self-movement through absolute negativity when it comes to projecting his own conception of the future.166 He sees the process of revolutionary transformation not as a singular act. but as a consistently self-critical social revolution. however. precisely on the issue of Feuerbach’s wholesale rejection of Hegel’s concept of the transcendence of alienation through the negation of the negation. A striking illustration of this is Patrick Murray’s sometimes-valuable Marx’s Theory of Scientific Knowledge. formal and abstract transcendence of the limits alienation imposes’. See Lukács 1976. This tendency to emphasise Marx’s debt to Hegel as being limited to the concept of externalisation or alienation has a lengthy history in Marx scholarship. Especially influential along these lines is Georg Lukács’s The Young Hegel. 537–68. See Kouvelakis 2003. It is a necessary but insufficient step towards liberation. For a detailed criticism of Lukács’ position. While Marx is highly critical of the way in which Hegel presents the dialectic of negativity. I am suggesting in this work that the reluctance of many commentators to recognise that Marx critically appropriates Hegel’s conception of the transcendence of alienation through second negativity appears to be connected to the fact that they refrain from entering into a discussion of Marx’s conception of the alternative to capitalism. Although he mentions in passing Marx’s ‘humanism’. Crude communism – the abolition of private property – is only the first negation. p. Unlike Feuerbach. he does not so much as mention the passages in which Marx praises Hegel’s concept of the transcendence or supersession of alienation.╇ Many have overlooked the fact that in the very work in which Marx praises Feuerbach the most – his 1844 ‘Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic’ – is where he parts company with him. This one-sided reading overlooks the fact that Marx sees a positive dimension within Hegel’s ‘speculative’ concept of transcendence that he appropriates for his own understanding of the kind of society that must replace capitalism.167 166. as the negation of private property and political overthrow of the bourgeoisie. beginning from itself’ much more is needed – the negation of the negation. it is merely the reflexive consciousness of this alienation. 167. one which takes him far from the positions held by other socialists and communists of the time. the movement through negation and double negation. To achieve ‘positive humanism. see Hudis 1989. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  73 Through his critical appropriation of the concept of self-movement through absolute negativity.

74  •  Chapter One

Marx goes so far as to write, ‘Communism is the necessary form and dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism as such is not the goal of human development, the form of human society’.168 But if communism is only the immediate but not ultimate goal, what is Marx really striving for? It appears that it is what he calls ‘a totality of human manifestations of life’.169 He refers to a new society as one that ‘produces man in this entire richness of his being – produces the rich man profoundly endowed with all the senses – as its enduring reality’.170 This is far beyond what he calls ‘crude communism’, which like capitalism reduces human sensuousness to one sense – the sense of having. Yet it is not clear that Marx considers even genuine communism or ‘positive humanism’ as the end or goal of human development, in that manifesting a totality of latent and acquired sensuous abilities is an endless process of becoming. Perhaps it was not without good reason Marx spoke of continuing the revolution ‘in permanence’. Marx peers into the future in the 1844 Manuscripts in asking what would happen when we ‘Assume man to be man, and his relationship to the world to be a human world’. When that is achieved there would be exchange – but an exchange of ‘love only for love, trust only for trust, etc.’. If one wants to enjoy any manifestation of life, be it art or anything else, one would need to develop a sense for it. Simply obtaining things in lieu of such attunement leaves one impoverished. ‘Every one of your relations to man and to nature must be a specific expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life’171 – which is another way of saying that ‘All emancipation is a reduction of the human world and relationships to man himself ’.172 It can be argued that much of what Marx is discussing about the future is vague and indeterminate. He surely provides little or no discussion of the institutional forms173 that might help promote a totality of manifestations of life. Yet it would be a mistake to interrupt the apparently ethereal character of much of Marx’s discussion to mean that he was either unclear about the kind

168.╇ Marx 1975r, p. 306. 169.╇ Marx 1975r, p. 299. 170.╇ Marx 1975r, p. 302. 171.╇ Marx 1975r, p. 326. 172.╇ Marx 1975o, p. 168. 173.╇ The closest Marx comes in 1844 to discussing institutional forms of a new society is in his discussion of landed property in the First Manuscript, where he argues against both monopolisation of land and dividing up the land into small private holdings. He advocates an ‘association’ of producers that ‘shares the economic advantage of large-scale landed property’ as well as ‘the original tendency’ towards equality. At this point, he does not mention nationalisation or state-ownership of the land. See Marx 1975r, p. 268.

The Transcendence of Alienation  •  75

of society that he wanted or that he saw no need to envisage the nature of an alternative to capital at all. He writes in the 1844 Manuscripts,
In order to abolish the idea of private property, the idea of communism is quite sufficient. It takes actual communist action to abolish actual private property. History will lead to it; and this movement, which in theory we already know to be a self-transcending movement, will constitute in actual fact a very rough and protracted process. But we must regard it as a real advance to have at the outset gained a consciousness of the limited character as well as of the goal of this historical movement – and a consciousness that reaches out beyond it.174

Far from refraining from any discussion about the future, Marx is here reflecting on the future on two levels. One is the idea of communism – the immediate principle of the future – that has as its task the elimination of private property and alienated labour. The other is a realisation of the idea of freedom that is much more open-ended and harder to define or even give a name to, since it involves the return of humanity to itself as a sensuous being exhibiting a totality of manifestations of life. Marx considers it a ‘real advance’ to be able to say this much about the future. We now need to see how he will further specify this when faced with an array of specific social tendencies and problems.

Discerning the ideal within the real, 1845–8
Upon completing the 1844 Manuscripts, Marx becomes directly involved in workers’ movements and writes a series of works to further clarify his break from capitalism and the need to replace it with a totally new kind of society, culminating in his famous Communist Manifesto.175 His writings of 1845–7 contain especially rich reflections about the alternative to capitalism. The central issue that concerns him is summed up in a passage in The German Ideology: ‘Individuals always proceeded, and always proceed, from themselves. Their relations are the relations of their real life process. How does it happen that their relations assume an independent existence over against them? And that the forces of their own life become superior to them?’176
174.╇ Marx 1975r, p. 313. 175.╇ The Manifesto was written in late December 1847 and first published (in London, in the German original) in February 1848. It was written primarily by Marx, though Marx and Engels were listed as co-authors. Engels had originally been commissioned by the Communist League to write it, but Marx considerably revised his initial draft, entitled ‘Principles of Communism’, in the Manifesto itself. 176.╇ Marx and Engels 1976a, p. 93.

76  •  Chapter One

Marx is specifying the inversion of subject and predicate as the defining feature of modern social existence, in that the relations formed by individuals become a ‘person apart’ that governs their lives without their consent. His primary criticism of contemporary thinkers is that they fall prey to this inversion. In The Holy Family, he makes a critique of Bruno Bauer and other young Hegelians for presenting ‘truth as an automaton that proves itself’. For them, ‘history, like truth, becomes a person apart, a metaphysical subject of which the real human individuals are mere bearers’.177 He writes in reply: ‘History does nothing, it “possesses no immense wealth,” it “wages no battles”. It is man, real, living man who does all that, who possesses and fights: “history” is not, as it were, a person apart, using man as a means to achieve its own aims; history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims’.178 On these grounds, he rejects the view that history unfolds in necessarily-progressive stages. He pours scorn upon Bauer’s contention that socialists and communists endorse unilinear theories of progressive improvement. Marx insists that the very opposite is the case, since figures like Fourier considered ‘progress’ to be no more than an ‘abstract phrase’. Marx writes, ‘In spite of the pretensions of “Progress”, continual retrogressions and circular movements occurâ•›.â•›.â•›.â•›the category, “Progress” is completely empty and abstract’.179 Holding that history is destined to proceed along fixed ‘progressive’ lines assumes that we are helpless victims (or beneficiaries) of what we ourselves create. On the same grounds, he attacks those who pose ‘society’ as a quasi-autonomous force. The German Ideology states, ‘Society is abstracted from these individuals, it is made independent, it relapses into a savagery of its own, and the individuals suffer as a result of their relapse’.180 Marx is further developing his understanding of the relation between civil society and the state that he first formulated in his critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. He attacks the notion that the state holds together civil society. On the contrary, it is civil society that holds together the state.181 This is in keeping with his view that the state is

177.╇ Engels and Marx 1975, p. 79. Although the vast bulk of The Holy Family was written by Marx, with only a very short section written by Engels, as a sign of appreciation Marx insisted on including Engels’s name before his own on the title page. 178.╇ Engels and Marx, p. 93. 179.╇ Engels and Marx, p. 83. Marx’s view of progress appears to be in accord with what a number of scholars contend is Hegel’s position as well. H.S. Harris writes, ‘There is nothing in [Hegel’s] logical theory to warrant the belief that the motion of consciousness must always be progressive. Every position of consciousness contains the earlier positions in a sublated form, and every position is a stable circle that can maintain itself against criticism. Thus stability is “natural” and regression is just as possible as progress’. See Harris 1995, p. 107. 180.╇ Marx and Engels 1976a, p. 464. 181.╇ See especially the discussion of this is in Engels and Marx 1975, pp. 120–2.

The Transcendence of Alienation  •  77

an edifice created by mutually-interacting individuals, instead of being some autonomous force that shapes civil society of its own accord. Marx is not satisfied, however, with simply pointing out the logical priority of civil society over the state. He wants to know why the state appears to have priority over civil society. The answer lies in the limits of civil society itself. He asks,
How is it that personal interests always develop, against the will of the individuals, into class interests, into common interests which acquire independent existence in relation to the individual persons, and in their independence assume the form of general interests?â•›.â•›.â•›.â•›How is it that in this process of private interests acquiring independent existence as class interests the personal behavior of the individual is bound to be objectified, estranged, and at the same time exists as a power independent of man and without him?182

His answer is that ‘definite modes of production’ arise that compel civil society to take the form of incompatible relations between private and general interests. The abstraction of individual from general interests makes necessary a state that externally mediates the relation between these mutually-antagonistic forces. The state, a product of human activity, now takes on a life of its own and governs the behaviour of individuals behind their backs – because of the limitations of civil society. He therefore argues in the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, ‘The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; that of the new is human society, or social humanity’.183 ‘Social humanity’ is not, however, a ‘person apart’ that externally imposes its will upon individuals. It is, rather, a condition in which individuals freely relate to themselves and each other on the basis of their self-activity.184 Marx refers to this in the 1844 Manuscripts as: ‘Above all we must avoid again postulating “society” as an abstraction vis-à-vis the individual. The individual is the social being’. Marx is not trying to wall humanity into the ‘social’; he rather seeks a mutual compatibility between individual and general interests.185 Yet exactly how does the present mode of production compel civil society to assume an abstract form? The answer is the social division of labour. By forcing individuals to adhere to a social division of labour, individuals become
182.╇ Marx and Engels 1976a, p. 245. 183.╇ Marx 1976a, p. 5. Marx also contends that civil society is the standpoint of classical political economy, a tendency that he strongly opposes. 184.╇ Marx writes in The Holy Family, ‘Society behaves just as exclusively as the state, only in a more polite form; it does not throw you out, but it makes it so uncomfortable for you that you go out of your own free will’. See Engels and Marx 1975, p. 96. 185.╇ For a searing criticism of twentieth-century ‘socialism’, which ‘walls man into his socialness’, see Kosik 1976.

78  •  Chapter One

radically separated from one other. This separation takes on a fixed form, regardless of their actual talents and abilities. Society becomes an abstraction that governs the lives of individuals, instead of the other way around: ‘As long as man remains in naturally evolved society, that is, as long as the cleavage exists between the particular and the common interest, so long, therefore, as activity is not voluntary, but naturally, divided, man’s own deed becomes an alien power opposed to him, which enslaves him instead of being controlled by him.’186 We have reached the acme of subject-predicate inversion. Marx is now supplying a historical, materialist explanation for the inversion that he objected to so strongly in his analyses of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and Phenomenology of Spirit. How is this inversion to be overcome? By abolishing the social division of labour. Once individuals are allowed to freely pursue a variety of talents and tasks as befits their particular nature, instead of having their role ‘fixed’ by some pre-ordained social power ‘above’ them, a new society would exist. He famously describes such a society as follows: ‘[I]n communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without every becoming a hunter, fisherman, shepherd, or critic.’187 Marx clearly has some notion of a postcapitalist society. Yet he remains wary as of this point about saying much more about it. Instead, he writes, ‘It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, according to this being, it will historically be compelled to do’.188 Marx’s reticence about indulging in detailed speculation about the future society – in place of what the proletariat itself is and is compelled to do – is closely connected to his opposition to the subject-predicate inversion. Posing a vision of the new society for the proletariat, or irrespective of what it is, amounts to foisting a product of intelligence or imagination upon the actual subject of history. Much of what Marx has criticised in capitalism in his early writings centres on the tendency to foist the products of human development upon the subject, irrespective of its own needs and desires. Why would he now
186.╇ Marx and Engels 1976a, p. 47. 187.╇ Ibid. Note that Marx does not mention to the state as regulating the general production, but rather society. 188.╇ Engels and Marx 1975, p. 37.

He writes of ‘the power which industry has without knowing or willing it and which destroys it and creates the basis for a human existence’. irrespective of the subjective force that can realise the ideal. 49. The productive forces include technology. scientific knowledge. ‘The proletariat can thus exist only world-historically.╇ Marx 1975s. not long after composing The Holy Family. can only have a “world-historical” existence’. as the ‘bearers of human development’. 189. it brings forth the subjective force that can dissolve this upside-down world. the product of human activity. he now sees in it the seeds of an inversion of the inversion. History in the modern era takes on a life of its own and operates behind the backs of its participants. Industry. and the overall level of industry. In his ‘Draft of an Article on Friedrich List’s Book Das Nationale System der politischen Ökonomie’. would ensure that communism remains a local and transient phenomenon. 190. takes on a life of its own and becomes the subjective force of capitalist society. The most important productive force is the proletariat. a major theme that Marx has emphasised since his doctoral dissertation (if not earlier) has been the need to discern the ideal from within the real.189 This power is in the proletariat. its activity.╇ Marx and Engels 1976a. which is produced by modern industry. Any effort to create a communist society without the development of these productive forces. Early in 1845. Genuine history will at that point finally begin. Although Marx opposes this inversion. which is generated by all three. Utilising a metaphor he will later employ in Capital and other writings. amounts to a violation of one of Marx’s primary normative standpoints. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  79 favour promoting a vision of the new society irrespective of the proletariat’s needs and desires? Furthermore. . he argues. Indulging in speculation about the future. p. Marx develops a new concept that represents a further expression of his effort to discern the forms of the future from within the contours of the present. the proletariat is the ‘human kernel’ contained within the ‘shell’ of industry that will burst forth from its further development. but in doing so. 282. he poses the development of modern industry as providing the material conditions for a postcapitalist society. p. just as communism. The German Ideology further develops this by emphasising the development of the productive forces as the pre-condition for communism. since the point will one day be reached when the product of industry – the workers – will step forth as the real subject.190 Marx rejected any conception that socialism or communism could be created in a single isolated country or group of countries.

╇ Marx 1975m. He concludes.80  •  Chapter One What will help bring communism into being. 194. but in order for a revolution to ‘succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of the ages and become fitted to found society anew’. Marx suggests. This inversion can only be inverted through the conscious intervention of a human subject that strives to reorganise social relations from top to bottom. that consciousness of a future communist society is unnecessary. 192. . Capitalism’s inherent drive for global expansion contains within itself the material conditions for its dissolution. 53. it remains a ‘person apart’ insofar as the social individual is concerned. p. However. there is no tension or contradiction in Marx’s position at all. ‘Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established. He consistently holds throughout his life that revolutionary consciousness spontaneously emerges from the oppressed in response to an array of specific material conditions. is capitalism’s drive to subject all human relations to value-production through the creation of a world-market. Marx has not departed from. and with it. on closer examination. see Hudis 1998. communism is a state of affairs that will emerge immanently from the contradictions of capitalism. who held the contrary position. Kautsky and Lenin.╇ Marx and Engels 1976a. 193.╇ For more on this. on the other hand. but rather has made more concrete. but from hard conceptual labour on the part of theoreticians.191 This does not mean. however.╇ Ibid. p. the ‘muck of the ages’. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things’. He does not hold that such consciousness is brought ‘to’ the masses ‘from without’ – in direct contrast to Lassalle. even if it does not want to’.193 It may appear that there is a tension or contradiction between these two sides of formulating the issue. On the one hand. The latter does not emerge spontaneously from the masses. It is needed not just to overthrow the bourgeoisie. it remains necessary to develop an awareness of a future communist society in order for a revolution to succeed in radically altering human relations. an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself.194 At the same time. yet. his insistence (expressed in a letter to Ruge) of 1843 that ‘consciousness is something that [humanity] has to acquire. Marx does not equate the consciousness that emerges from the oppressed with revolutionary theory. 144. He argues that ‘communist consciousness’ on a mass-scale is needed because ‘an alteration of men on a mass scale is necessary’. The ‘perverse’ inversion of subject and predicate that characterises capitalism remains in place.192 If society itself brings about the millennium in quasiautomatic fashion. Revolutionary theory needs to elicit and build upon mass 191.

p. Marx holds that the immanent rhythm of reality will prepare the way for an alternative. 168. since there are neither classes nor a proletariat. essentially economic. while the class. 197. He argues that in such a society the proletariat does not become the ruling class.â•›. is needed to help bring forth a conceptual alternative. albeit necessarily-mystifying. but not reducible to. and for the first time consciously treats all naturally evolved premises as the creations of hitherto existing menâ•›.and socialist consciousness that spontaneously emerges from the masses is of critical importance. of course. forms of appearance. Marx. in so far as reality is nevertheless only a product of the preceding intercourse of individuals. but it is not reducible to it.â•›. 196. it turns existing conditions into conditions of unity.╇ Marx and Engels 1976a.195 Hard and continuous theoretical and philosophical labour that is rooted in.197 He further specifies additional aspects of a postcapitalist society in his writings of 1845–7. The proletariat simply ceases to exist: ‘When the proletariat is victorious. 81. when it comes to obtaining a proper understanding of capital and capitalism. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  81 consciousness. The reality which communism creates is precisely the true basis for rendering it impossible that anything should exist independently of individuals. If it were no different than massconsciousness. it would be impossible for Marx. Simply agreeing on the need to develop an alternative does not by itself constitute one. feels that nothing prohibits him from directly discussing the distinguishing feature of a postcapitalist society even as he warns against engaging in idle speculation about the nature of such a state of affairs: Communism differs from all previous movements in that it overturns the basis of all earlier relations of production and intercourse. which aims to grasp capital’s ‘law of motion’ by penetrating its mystifying.196 Marx is here defining the new society that he is striving for on the basis of a critique of subject-predicate inversion and on the basis of the normative principle that ‘All emancipation is a reduction of the human world and relationships to man himself ’. therefore. it by 195.╇ Marx 1975o. p. therefore. or anyone else for that matter. Many people realise on their own initiative that capitalism is an unfair and exploitative system. the consciousness of the oppressed. but that is not the same as composing a work such as Marx’s Capital. On these grounds. the material production of the conditions of this unity. In other words. yet he does not appear to assume that its emergence is for that reason guaranteed. .â•›Its organization is. to explain the objectivity of their subjective role as theoreticians.╇ The same is true. it is not the full equivalent of a philosophy of revolution that helps disclose the complex forms and dynamics of capitalism as well as the alternative to it.

198 He also writes that since ‘the communist revolution is directed against the hitherto existing mode of activity’ it ‘does away with labour’. 1976b. Labour in this sense is abolished. However.202 In the Manifesto. p. Yet he reserves his harshest words for the market in labour-power: ‘Communism does not deprive man of the power to appropriate the products of society. Marx also writes that ‘the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property’.199 Marx does not suggest that laboring-activity literally comes to an end. but as the ultimate goal. who appropriate the products of 198. 218. his perspective of 1844.╇ Engels and Marx 199.203 It may seem that Marx has muted. p. if not moved away from.╇ Marx and Engels 202. Marx focuses on the need to negate private property because it is the most immediate expression of the power of bourgeois society over the worker. 262. the workers are forced to sell themselves for a wage to the owners of capital. Then the proletariat disappears’. arguing that individuals become fixated on a small number of desires when society prevents them from pursuing a wide range of them. 52.╇ Marx and Engels 203. Partly on these grounds. in that the abolition of private property here seems to be posed not just as a mediatory stage. 1976b. p. which becomes overwhelming in capitalism. he further develops the emphasis of the 1844 Manuscripts on developing ‘a totality of manifestations of life’ as a defining feature of the new society.╇ Marx and Engels 201. . p. the Communist Manifesto notes that ‘buying and selling’ – the market – disappears in a communist society. 36. He now speaks of the ‘development of a totality of desires’.╇ Marx and Engels 200.82  •  Chapter One no means becomes the absolute side of society. this would be too facile a reading. p. all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation’. Through the bourgeois property-relation. it ‘assumes an abstract. 1976a. Marx thinks it is an ‘absurdity’ to presume that one can satisfy one passion or desire ‘apart from all others’. 500. 1976a. p. the passion becomes interminable. 1976a.200 ‘Labour’ as an activity distinct from the enjoyment of a wealth of sensuous possibilities no longer mediates social interaction and reproduction. but that ‘the whole opposition between work and enjoyment disappears’. for it is victorious only by abolishing itself and its opposite.╇ Marx and Engels 1975. isolated character’ and confronts the individual as ‘an alien power’. When one passion is pursued at the expense of a multiplicity of desires. Along these lines.201 He reiterates his earlier critique of the interminable desire to have. 498.

499. that is required of him. consequently. However. it states: Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to the division of labour.╇ Marx 205. it does single out the need to uproot the conditions of labour. the wage decreases.207 It is important not to read the Manifesto selectively. Without the abolition of this property-relation. the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. alienated labour. and thereby also every other previous mode of appropriation’. except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation. as the repulsiveness of the work increases. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  83 their productive activity. this does not mean that Marx has forgotten about. 495. 1976b. for instance. is not a simple relation or even an abstract concept. or is downplaying. while the living person is dependent and has no individuality’. a principle. ‘In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality.205 He goes on to say that the abolition of this condition is the essence of proletarian revolution: ‘The proletarians cannot become masters of the productive forces of society. on the exploitation of the many by the few. 498. p. 490–1. pp.â•›.â•›. the economic and political domination of the bourgeoisie remains unchallenged. and it is only the most simple.╇ Marx and and and and Engels Engels Engels Engels 1976b.206 Only after writing this does he state: The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms. Though the phrase ‘alienated labour’ does not appear in the Manifesto.â•›. and. In proportion. but the abolition of bourgeois property. he writes.╇ Marx 207. Right before citing the need to abolish private property. . therefore.204 In another passage reminiscent of the language found in the 1844 Manuscripts. most monotonous and most easily acquired knack. the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character.╇ Marx 206. by skipping over the phrase ‘in this sense’ in the last sentence and the word ‘but’ in the previous one. In this sense. That Marx did not alter his view of the relation between alienated labour and private property between 1844 and 1847 is further confirmed by what he writes in an article written at around the same time as the Manifesto: ‘[P]rivate property. 1976b. all charm for the workman. 1976b. but consists in the totality of the bourgeois relations of 204. He becomes an appendage of the machine. p. p.

╇ Marx and Engels 1976b. p. Marx makes no reference to the state. 497. ‘It is high time that communists should openlyâ•›.â•›.84  •  Chapter One productionâ•›. a product of social activity as a whole’. in the section of the Manifesto dealing with ‘the relation of communists to the proletarians as a whole’. who is authoring the Communist Manifesto. 481.209 This raises an important issue: if the defining role of the communist party is to understand and transmit the ‘ultimate results’ of the struggle. p.212 It is important not to conflate these two points. but a political transitional form immediately following the working classes’ seizure of political power.â•›. and instruments of production ‘in the hands of the state’. Although many of the utopians were familiar with Feuerbach’s critique of subject-predicate inversion. Marx is here not discussing socialism or communism. But that does not mean that he opposes projecting a conception of the ultimate goal that is based on ‘the actual struggles springing from existing class struggles’.╇ Marx 1976c. 337.╇ Marx and Engels 1976b.208 Most importantly. p. Marx emphasises the need to address the goals of a new society. or even the abolition of. In discussing the ultimate goals of the communists in the Manifesto. communications. . He singles out the distinctive contributions of communists as: (1) internationalism instead of nationalism. they also represent and take care of the future of that movement’. 498. which discusses the immediate goals of the communist movement – such as the centralisation of credit. Marx’s position seems to be that they fall into this very same inversion on another level by posing the results of 208. 209. independent of the actual struggles of the proletariat. factories. This discussion should not be confused with the end of Section II of the Manifesto. 210.210 And it concludes by stating. 211.â•›a change in.â•›publish their views’.╇ Marx and Engels 1976b. 212.â•›. how can Marx. ‘The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims.211 It therefore appears that Marx is not opposed to addressing the ultimate goal of a new society. Marx opposes any tendency to project a vision of a postcapitalist society that comes out of the theoretician’s own head. He then states that the communists put forth ‘the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement’.╇ Marx and Engels 1976b. p. but in the movement of the present. claim not to have some idea of those results? Moreover. 518. and a change in the relationship of classes is a historical change. Marx opposes utopian socialists for projecting a view of the future that comes out of their heads rather than from the actual struggles of the real subject – the proletariat.â•›. the Manifesto begins by stating. these relations can only follow from a change in these classes and their relationships with each other. What is at issue is how to go about doing so. and (2) ‘always and everywhere [they] represent the interests of the movement as a whole’. for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class. p.

it also underlines his understanding of how to bring to consciousness the ultimate goals that he believes are worth living and dying for. necessity. It is thus an egregious error to think that Marx can be adequately characterized as a 213. Megill contends that Marx was not so much a ‘materialist’ as a rationalist who privileged universality. however. 3. he claimed. I have also so far shown that Marx came to view such phenomena as private property. Marx raised consciousness or reason to a veritable universal in emphasising how it is embedded in historical phenomena. p. His main concern is with the manner of projecting an alternative. thinking. That does not mean. Like Hegel. Megill argues. Without these normative concerns. his critique of capitalism would hardly have been possible. This raises the question of how Marx’s normative standpoint affected his view of the market. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  85 their thinking as the subject of history. . on the contrary. Hegel’s ontologization of logic resonated in Marx’s work throughout the whole of his intellectual career. Thus. He therefore opposes any effort to introduce a speculative discussion of the future. Marx was profoundly influenced by a Hegelian conception of rationality. Marx’s criticism of subjectpredicate inversion not only underlies his critique of bourgeois society as well as of Hegel’s philosophy. Marx did not privilege matter over consciousness.╇ Megill 2002. that Marx opposes positing any conception of an alternative at all. Megill writes. irrespective of actual material conditions and forces of liberation. he ‘aimed to discover underlying logical essences that. and predictability in his approach to historical phenomena. could not be discovered merely by generalizing from empirical data’. and the separation of civil society and the state as problematic because of a set of normative concerns that he brought to bear upon his study of capitalism. Evaluating the young Marx’s concept of a postcapitalist society This discussion by the young Marx indicates that his approach to articulating an alternative to existing society centres on viewing the ideal as immanent within the real. A study by Allan Megill – The Burden of Reason (Why Marx Rejected Politics and the Market) – raises important questions about this issue. or spirit.213 He therefore finds the claim that Marx was a ‘materialist’ as constituting a superficial and one-sided reading of his work. alienated labour. in which logic equates to ontology and in which ontology thus equates to mind. not whether or not to do so.

╇ Engels and Marx 1975. Later it turns out that value is determined quite fortuitously and that it need not to bear any relation to either the cost of production or social usefulness. because of any authoritarian tendencies on his part. As I have shown above. Megill argues that Marx’s adherence to this notion explains his hostility to the market.╇ Megill 2002. p.86  •  Chapter One materialist. 216. Marx did not oppose the market. . to assume an unrealistically negative attitude towards any form of the market. Megill is also correct in saying that Marx opposes market. he criticises the ‘one-sided’ and ‘abstract’ materialism of the British empiricists as well as that of Feuerbach.â•›. ‘Chance’ becomes the enemy of a theory based on a notion of embedded rationality. For Megill. Marx writes. embracing the thing itself. in the 1844 Manuscripts. even if the critique therein does not serve (as I have argued above) as the crux of his critique of capitalism. necessity. he explicitly affirms the unity of idealism and materialism in spelling out his own philosophical world-view. ‘Value is determined at the beginning in an apparently rational way.╇ In the Theses on Feuerbach. p. p.217 Most important of all. See Marx 1976a. instead of by the human relations of person to person. 61. by the cost of production of an object and by its social usefulness.â•›. He finds the market to be irrational. 173. in that prices are determined by arbitrary vacillations of supply and demand. ‘Hegel often gives a real presentation. he argues.and exchangerelations in his early writings. pp. like many other nineteenth century thinkers. His uncritical acceptance of the notion of embedded rationality – a theme that appears in his work from as early as his very first writings. Megill makes a powerful case that the interpretation of Marx as a ‘materialist’ fails to do justice to the nuances of his thought. 8. this is Marx’s gravest error. subsumed under laws’215 that are universal.216 And.â•›Hegel and Marx.╇ Engels and Marx 1975.╇ Megill 2002.214 Notions of embedded rationality involve a privileging of universality. Marx did not subject Hegel to critique simply for being an ‘idealist’. and predictivity. 6. Market-relations are defined by chance and irregularity. and predictable. necessary. He opposed the market because it ‘is not. 32. and cannot be. 217. Megill argues. 215. he criticised ‘contemplative materialism’ and praised idealism for developing ‘the active side of history’. 9. at least as the term materialist is normally usedâ•›. adhered to the notion of embedded rationality. As Marx writes in The Holy Family. p. in 1837 – inexorably led Marx.’218 Marx is highly critical of arbitrary and fortuitous 214. although Marx often calls himself a materialist after 1844. 218. within the speculative presentation’.

however.╇ Megill 2002. 220. We see also how only naturalism is capable of comprehending the action of world history’. 223.â•›. p. 221.╇ Megill 2002.╇ Marx 1975r. Instead. conditioned. . and 219. Marx speaks of humanity as ‘a suffering.223 He fails to mention. the critical issue is. If reality lacks such rationality.â•›needs to be understood in the light of an understanding of nature – and that means. 438. that the passage does not equate naturalism to ‘natural science’. in the light of natural science’. There is also no question that Marx was committed to a notion of embedded rationality.221 He refers specifically to Marx’s embrace of ‘naturalism’ in the concluding essay of his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. As I have shown. p. as Marx sees it. even the most noble and inspired efforts at social change would prove quixotic. Despite Megill’s close engagement with the writings of the young Marx (his book only goes up to 1846). is a product of the social division of labour – which is what produces the very separation of individual and general interests that he finds so offensive in capitalism. He writes. p.222 Megill takes this to mean that for Marx. 13. 13. for Marx. labour that ‘involves the application of knowledge to the productive process’. what is the agent or subject within reality that embodies reason? What is the ‘internal principle’ that guides reality towards the idea of freedom? Megill argues that. p. was in place by 1844 at the latest’. In spelling out this ‘positive humanism’. the internal principle is human intelligence as expressed in scientific knowledge.â•›. ‘historyâ•›. However. He writes. and constitutes at the same time the unifying truth of both.219 The market.220 It propels history towards the idea of freedom by developing the forces of production. Marx contends that reality must embody a ‘rationality’ that can enable the idea of freedom to be ultimately realised. where Marx writes: ‘Here we see how consistent naturalism or humanism is distinct from both idealism and materialism. and to naturalism. p. it equates naturalism to humanism. which ultimately bring forth the social revolution against capitalism. 222.╇ Marx and Engels 1976a.╇ Megill 2002. there are many problems with his claim that Marx poses the intentional agent as science and technology. This driving force is ‘intellectual labour’. 2. ‘Marx’s commitment to natural science. 336. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  87 social relations such as the market because they represent ‘relations [which] become independent of individuals’ and become ‘subordinated to general class relations’. it is the dimension of thought that is concerned with mastering nature with a view to satisfying human beings’ needs’. ‘The driving force of history is clearly thought – more specifically.

This is in keeping with his criticism of subject-object inversion. because it prioritises universality. this can hardly be considered a theoretical inconsistency or an exception from his overall perspective. I would therefore argue that Marx opposed capitalism because it forecloses the possibility of contingency and spontaneous development by positing abstract labour as the universal medium of social interaction and reproduction.226 If Marx were the hyper-rationalist that Megill claims. his reference to ‘naturalism’ emphasises not some predetermined pattern of predictability and certainty. 226. p.â•›Neither nature objectively nor nature subjectively is directly given in a form adequate to the human being’. one can draw the exact opposite conclusion that Megill does on the basis of these and related passages. necessity and predictability at the expense of human ‘sensuousness’ – its contingency and suffering. it would be hard to see how he could make such comments. Marx presents the intentional agent for social transformation as neither ‘science’ nor even human intelligence. as against the abstractive and objectivist standpoint of modern science.â•›.╇ Marx 1975r. 337. 225. That is to say. p. As Megill acknowledges on several occasions. He opposed capitalism because it is based on a system of abstract labour. . from the doctoral dissertation to The German Ideology.224 This is not an isolated statement.88  •  Chapter One limited creature’. Science and human 224. and passions in favour of universality. but instead the proletariat. rationalism and ‘natural science’ – at least as traditionally understood in the modern Western tradition – tend to neglect feelings. and predictability. 303. by which Marx means a philosophy that grasps ‘actual corporeal humanity’ in all its sensuousness. by equating naturalism to humanism. Instead of running away from such contingency. necessity. but that which is particular. Marx affirms it: ‘To be sensuous is to suffer’. Much of Marx’s work consists of an affirmation of contingency and sensuousness. in which having predominates over being.╇ Ibid. Megill also fails to mention one of the most important statements in the 1844 Manuscripts – ‘to have one basis for science and another for life is a priori a lie’. In fact. he is a being for himselfâ•›. Marx argues. However. contingent. even while acknowledging its contributions. suffering. Since the emphasis on contingency and ‘actual sensuousness’ is a major theme throughout his early work. and unpredictable.225 He opposes the one-sidedness of natural science. prevents us from seeing that ‘man is not merely a natural being: he is a human natural being. Moreover. Capitalism’s necessarily abstractive character.╇ Marx 1975r.â•›.

in the ‘Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic’. Marx could not pose science as the intentional agent at the same time as maintaining his criticism of subject-predicate inversion – a criticism. for science was surely incorporated in the intellectual. rejected this “puerile stuff”. Marx takes issue with the very last sentence of Hegel’s Phenomenology. ‘a being which is neither an object itself. Marx attacks Hegel for posing disembodied thought as the subject. beginning from itself’.╇ This critical stance towards science was largely overlooked among Marx’s ‘orthodox’ followers.╇ Hegel 2008. instead of ‘actual.â•›. When he speaks of the proletariat being a ‘bearer’ of philosophy. as especially seen in the huge influence that the thought of Ferdinand Lassalle exerted among the first generation of post-Marx Marxists.â•›.â•›would exist solitary and alone’. Marx emphasises the irreducibly contingent and limited character of human existence. Lassalle’s argument that the vehicle of ‘science’ was not the proletariat. the leader. 229. under specific social conditions.227 Megill’s claim also makes it hard to understand the persistence of Marx’s critique of Hegel. only if objects and other people exist on their own terms. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  89 intelligence are products of subjective human interaction that. p. as I have shown. solitary and alone [ohne den er das leblose Einsame wäre]’. in contrast to what he sees as Hegel’s excessive rationalism.I. 337.’ 228.229 A being can be considered alive only if it does not embrace all of existence. all would be ‘lifeless. nor has an objectâ•›.â•›. . p. take on a life of their own and control the actions of the producers. that permeates all of his early writings.â•›. on the other hand. independent of that being. He views actual corporeal man as the generator of such categories. Such an attitude made it natural for him to think that he represented “science and the worker”. See Dunayevskaya 2000.228 Marx contends on the contrary. which states that without the unity of history and its ‘philosophical comprehension’ found in ‘Absolute Knowledge’. corporeal man’. Marx. Marx does not view actual corporeal man as a mere embodiment of abstract rational categories. p. He criticises Hegel’s deification of reason insofar as it turns actual people into expressions of cognitive 227. 77: ‘Lassalle suffered from the illusion of the age: that science is “classless”.╇ Marx 1975r. proved enormously influential in the organisational theories of Karl Kautsky and V. 531. Why would Marx spend so much time on a critique of Hegel for claiming to comprehend contingent phenomena prior to their actual empirical analysis if he was the hyper-rationalist that Megill claims he was? Of particular interest in this regard is that. but rather the radicalised bourgeois intelligentsia.â•›outside itâ•›. he refers not to what he considers Hegel’s dehumanised philosophy of consciousness but to ‘positive humanism. Lenin in particular.

Human activity therefore contains the potential of overcoming natural necessity. 231. purposeful activity enables it to create social existence.â•›.90  •  Chapter One categories abstracted from real life. Marx returns to Hegel’s Absolutes in the course of working on Capital. By treating nature as a person apart that is to be possessed. ‘has its nature outside itself’.231 Marx rejects any perspective that totally dissolves nature into human subjective activity on the grounds that ‘a being which is neither an object itself. Human activity is an extension and part of nature.â•›. Capitalism denies this.233 nature must not be viewed in terms of an exteriority to be annulled. p.â•›. like all natural beings. Marx denies that nature can be completely subsumed by human subjective activity. Marx’s critique of Hegel and his embrace of ‘positive humanism. Natural limits are ignored for the sake of gratifying one human need at the expense of all others. and destroyed for the sake of augmenting value.╇ That Marx sharply criticises the conclusion of Hegel’s Phenomenology. beginning from itself’ also emphasise the crucial importance of natural existence. for 230. solitary.â•›.230 It is to counter this defect in Hegel that Marx calls himself a humanist. and alone’. does not project an abstract humanism that ignores natural limits and realities. no matter how much humanity strives to overcome it. nor has an objectâ•›.╇ Marx 1975r.╇ Ibid. 337. This is because humanity. and this gap needs to be accepted and celebrated. capitalism indeed leaves us with a world that is ‘lifeless. since it reduces everything – including the natural world – to having and consumption.╇ Ibid.â•›would exist solitary and alone’. consumed. Since humanity is a ‘natural being’. At the same time. in delineating the ‘absolute law of capitalist accumulation’. and not just to the objects that I claim belong to me.â•›outside itâ•›. Humanity goes beyond nature insofar as its capacity for conscious. .╇ Ibid. As Dunayevskaya argues.234 I belong not just to me. 232. and especially his concept of ‘Absolute Knowledge’ in 1844 does not mean that it is his last word on the subject. In insisting that nature cannot be separated from human nature. However. ‘Human nature’ is the capacity to go beyond physical nature in creating an artificial environment. therefore. he is implying that one cannot be degraded for the sake of the other. Marx. even as it is a ‘being for himself’. since humanity is both a ‘natural being’ and ‘a being for himself’. 234. this does not mean that nature can ever become an irrelevant or totally subordinate moment in our existence. 233. See Dunayevskaya 2002 and 2003 for an appreciative re-reading of the conclusion of Hegel’s Phenomenology in light of the realities of the twentieth century.232 This has crucial implications for conceiving of a postcapitalist society. An irreducible gap exists between human praxis and the natural world.

that he held a perfectionist view of human nature. Marx’s emphasis on achieving a ‘totality of manifestations of life’ does not imply a life free of pain. and Marx’s view that ‘all emancipation is a reduction of the human world and relationships to 235. he contends. natural world. like all natural beings. opposition to treating oneself and others as mere means to an end. It is the ‘suffering’ involved in accepting and celebrating the fact that. These three normative criteria. Leszek Kolakowski argues in his major study of Marxism that Marx envisages a postcapitalist society as ‘a society of perfect unity. However. since to be sensuous is to ‘have sensuous objects outside oneself’. we again need to keep in mind that Marx’s emphasis on contingency and sensuousness leads him to write. but it appears related to our ability to envisage the transgression of finite limits that our sensuous existence prevents us from actualising. Humanity. and all values reconciled’. The phrase appears several times in the 1844 Manuscripts. we too are limited and contingent. are opposition to subject-predicate inversion. Sensuous beings like ourselves are bound to suffer. On the other hand. The Transcendence of Alienation  •  91 I also belong to the objective. thinking out the ramifications of their interchangeability is a crucial part of developing an ecological critique of capitalism that affirms and respects natural limits. and alienation. they stand at quite a distance from the rationalist scientism that Megill ascribes to him. which I have discussed above. once we are no longer alienated from ourselves. since it led ‘Marxist’ régimes of the twentieth century to attempt to forcefully impose a degree of social transformation that was impossible to actualise. While Marx does not explicitly spell out his comments on nature in terms of what he envisages for life after capitalism. Megill’s reading of Marx makes it difficult to understand why he poses naturalism and humanism as interchangeable terms. and suffering. why then did he criticise it? The answer is that the market does not meet the three normative criteria by which he measures reality in his early writings. p. Marx’s emphasis on the inseparability of ‘naturalism’ and ‘humanism’ also speaks to a criticism often made of his early writings – namely. as a sensuous being is a limited being. in which all human aspirations would be fulfilled.╇ Kolakowski 1978. In any case. 523. discrimination. Marx does not explicitly say why suffering is an inevitable part of the human condition. .235 Kolakowski views this radical utopianism as a major defect. It only implies a life in which we are able to come to terms with such afflictions. But this ‘suffering’ is not the suffering of exploitation. and a limited being is a suffering being. contradiction. ‘to be sensuous is to suffer’. If Marx did not oppose the market because he privileged scientific necessity and predictability above all else.

as the result of alienated labour. not its cause. instead of an end in itself. Moreover. like private property. The market is characterised – at least once there is generalised commodity-exchange – by depersonalised object-object relations. The products come to dominate the producer. his early writings contain far more discussion of private property than the market. that the critique of the market is not the pons asini of Marx’s critique of capitalism. our exploration indicates that his real object of critique was not the market or private property. It needs to be emphasised. but rather the social relations that underpin them. The producer’s activity becomes a mere means to serve the product. The market controls the fate of the producer by setting prices in a way that has little or nothing to do with their actual value or the subjective activity by which the products are created. instead of human relations. however. In contrast to how Marx was understood by much of twentieth-century ‘Marxism’. Marx sees the market.92  •  Chapter One man himself’. rather than vice versa – because the nature of the activity that creates the product in the first place becomes a mere means to an end. his comments about the latter are far from extensive or systematic. .

Heinrich 1989. and Bellofiore and Fineschi (eds. Bidet 2009.Chapter Two The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society in the Drafts of Capital The ‘first draft’ of Capital: The Poverty of Philosophy (1847) The process by which Marx composed his greatest theoretical work.) 2009. however.╇ See especially Rosdolsky 1968. Dussel 2000. Marx had sketched out plans to write a two-volume work on economics that he provisionally entitled A Critique of Politics and Political Economy. after Marx made numerous changes to both the form and content of his projected book. and they have been the subject of prolonged and detailed examination and debate by a large number of scholars and researchers on Marx’s work over the past several decades.1 Most commentators on Marx have seen the Grundrisse. is long and complicated. As early as 1845. After he temporarily put aside this work. Fineschi 2009. Capital.) 2008. in order to concentrate on polemical writings like The Holy Family and The German Ideology. as the first draft of Capital. Uchida 1988. he returned to a direct study of economics in the late 1840s. Musto (ed. . However. There are grounds for considering that Marx’s initial conceptual outline of what later became Capital began much earlier. Marx composed a considerable number of drafts of Capital in the two decades preceding its publication in 1867. in 1847 with his 1. the first volume of what became Capital was not completed until 1867. composed in 1857–8.

neither of these was published until long after his death. 326. Marx also writes that The Poverty of Philosophy ‘might thus serve as an introduction to the study of Capital’. in 1863–5. 4. 5.4 The Poverty of Philosophy (1847) represents Marx’s first published work on economics and marked a crucial step in the two-decades long process that led to the publication of his greatest work. and the distinction between actual labour-time and socially-necessary labour-time – first appear in his writings of 1847. having completed his criticism of the young Hegelians. in 1885. p. For this reason. ‘Results of the Immediate Process of Production’. and a German edition did not appear until after Marx’s death. the distribution of the elements of production. Except for its sixth chapter. Capital. However. it has not been found. although several chapters did appear in serialised form in several socialist publications between 1872 and 1875.3 by considering The Poverty of Philosophy and related manuscripts composed in 1847 as the ‘first draft’ of what became Capital.╇ The Poverty of Philosophy was written and published in French. 194–5. Near the end of his life (in 1880) he wrote that The Poverty of Philosophy ‘contains the seeds of the theory developed after twenty years’ work in Capital’. Marx had. and the manuscript of 1861–3 as the third. These were composed in a period when Marx.╇ See Marx 1989g. as seen in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 and The German Ideology. This first appeared as a letter to L’Egalité of 7 April 1880. Moreover. I will follow the approach taken by Samuel Hollander’s recent study of Marx’s economic theory. the ‘reserve-army of labour’. a number of crucial concepts that later became central to Capital and that are not found in either the 1844 Manuscripts or the German Ideology make their first appearance in The Poverty of Philosophy. pp. The book was not republished in Marx’s lifetime. felt the need to present to the public a positive exposition of his economic theories. first in French.2 A considerable number of critical concepts that became central to Capital – such as surplus-value (although the phrase itself does not explicitly appear in The Poverty of Philosophy). written extensively on political economy prior to The Poverty of Philosophy. The Grundrisse will be treated as the second draft. 3. Proudhon. the relation between production and distribution. of course. was a rather schematic and eclectic thinker whose arguments are not always internally coherent.╇ See Hollander 2008.╇ Marx also composed what can be considered a fourth draft of Capital. Marx had also studied the political economists. which sought to apply the insights of David Ricardo’s economic theory in developing a criticism of the inequities of modern capitalism. as seen in MEGA2 IV/3. . Never2.5 The purpose of The Poverty of Philosophy was to take issue with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s The Philosophy of Poverty (1846). as Marx shows.94  •  Chapter Two The Poverty of Philosophy and the associated manuscript on ‘Wages’.

‘shows us the real movement of bourgeois production. It is not until the second German edition of Volume I of Capital in 1872 that he explicitly distinguishes between them by referring to exchange-value as the value-form or form of appearance of value. Whereas Proudhon holds that the inequities of capitalism result from an inadequate or incomplete application of the determination of value by labourtime. the costs of production represent ‘constituted value’ – the relative amount of labour-time that it takes to produce a given commodity. below. Proudhon consistently counterposed the ‘rationality’ of Ricardo’s principle of the determination of value6 by labour-time to capitalism’s ‘irrational’ and disorganised process of exchange. is hidden and distorted by the exchange-process. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  95 theless.7 Ricardo. Workers would be paid not in money – which Proudhon saw as a wholly arbitrary and unnatural phenomenon – but. in tokens or vouchers that express the amount of time the labourer works in a given period. instead. and that he should thus take for the solution of the antimony between utility and exchange value what Ricardo and his school presented long before him as the scientific formula of one single side of this antimony. Marx is scathingly critical of Proudhon’s position. in which workers are paid on the basis of a portion of the price of the commodity.╇ Marx 1976b. of bourgeois society. on the grounds that it utilises the central principle of capitalist production – the determination of value by labour-time – as the defining feature of a ‘just’ or non-capitalist society.╇ In The Poverty and Philosophy (1847). which constitutes value’. p. Proudhon leaves ‘this real movement out of account’ and seeks the ‘reorganization of the world on a would-be new formula. he argued. . These tokens would then be exchanged for an equivalent of goods and services produced in the same amount of time (or which have the same ‘value’). This will be discussed further in Chapter Three. 121. Proudhon should give as a “revolutionary theory of the future” what Ricardo expounded scientifically as the theory of present-day society. instead of upon the value of their labour. Marx notes. Proudhon therefore proposed altering the exchange-relations of capitalism by paying workers a ‘fair’ equivalent of the value of their labour in the form of labour-tokens or time-chits. Hence. that of exchange value’. Proudhon argued that because labour is the source of all value. ‘Ricardo takes present-day society as his starting point to demonstrate to us 6. the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859). Marx holds that this is the very basis of its inequalities: ‘It will think it very naïve that M. and the 1861–3 draft of Capital Marx uses the terms ‘value’ and ‘exchange-value’ more or less interchangeably. which formula is no more than the theoretical expression of the real movement which exists and which is so well described by Ricardo’. 7. This principle of value-determination. the Grundrisse (1858).

freed from all the elements of antagonism he finds in it. Instead. clearly not the case. It is constituted.R. since his differences with Proudhon’s understanding of a future non-capitalist society grounds his entire critique. 138. he sees an “egalitarian” relation which he would like to see society adopt’. Marx argues. 10. as well as Bray – ‘have. categories specific to bourgeois society into his envisagement of a ‘socialist’ alternative. but in relation to the quota of each and every other product which can be created in the ╇ 8. The reason. 144. T. The Poverty of Philosophy indicates that Marx is not averse to discussing the future. not by the time needed to produce it all alone. he takes issue with the content of Proudhon’s discussion – that he conceives of a future society drawn from the basis of principles of capitalism. ╇ 9. A number of these were set up by utopian socialists in the 1830s in order to organise commodity-exchange without a capitalist intermediary. Nowhere in the text does Marx suggest that Proudhon erred by discussing a future organisation of society per se. Marx writes of Bray.╇ Marx 1976b. that would mean that capitalists would try to get workers to work slower rather than faster. the book also contains a detailed critique of English socialists (such as John Bray) for importing. commodities that take longer to produce would have a greater value. he does not agree that value expresses the actual number of hours of labour performed by the worker. Moreover.╇ Marx 1976b. William Thompson. Bray had written several influential works in the 1830s arguing for ‘equitable labour exchange bazaars’. However. Since capitalism is based on augmenting value.96  •  Chapter Two how it constitutes value – M. This is. Marx vigorously objects to applying categories that are specific to capitalism – such as the determination of value by labour-time – to conceptualising the kind of society that should replace it. along similar lines as Proudhon. proposed the equalitarian application of the Ricardian theory’. is that ‘Value is never constituted all alone. Why was Marx opposed to the ‘egalitarian’ application of Ricardo’s theory? The main reason is that it rests upon a fundamental theoretical error – the conflation of actual labour-time with socially-necessary labour-time.9 Marx argues that almost all the early English socialists – Thomas Hodgskin. pp.╇ Marx 1976b. Proudhon takes constituted value as his starting point to constitute a new world with the aid of this value’. Marx agrees with Ricardo that labour is the source of all value. at different periods. ‘In a purified individual exchange. Edmunds. . If value were based on the actual hours of labour.8 In sum.10 He will further develop his criticism of such positions throughout his two decades of work on Capital. of course. p. p. 123–4.

╇ Marx 1976b. The formula adopted by Proudhon and the English socialists – the determination of value of labour-time – cannot serve as the basis of a new society. Quality no longer matters. the extra eight hours of labour performed by the worker in Detroit creates no value. but the minimum time it could possibly be produced in.14 The value of the commodity is therefore determined by labour-time only to the extent that labour has been subsumed by an abstract.╇ Marx 1976b. at most. 13. the value of the commodity is not determined by actual labour-time but by simple or equalised labour-time. Marx writes of how ‘The pendulum of the clock has become as accurate a measure of the relative activity of two workers as it is of the speed of two locomotives’. which he means to establish universally in “time to come”!’15 Of course. Yet. 14. they were since they wanted them to obtain a ‘fair’ share of social wealth. ‘Time is everything. p. Quantity decides everything. day by day’. because it is the principle that governs the alienation of the labourer. it is determined by the average amount of necessary labour-time needed to create it. already realised in automatic labour. 15. alienating activity. instead of vice-versa. and. hour for hour. . Their labour-time takes the form of an abstract equivalent. Proudhon wields his smoothing-plane of “equalisation”. 147. Marx sees competitive pressures as a function of the drive to augment value. p. on average. If a worker in Detroit assembles an automobile in 24 hours while one in South Korea assembles a similar model in only 16 hours. Marx argues. like the English socialists. the workers are forced to produce the commodity in that time unit. or reduced to an abstract equivalent. to create a given commodity. opposed the exploitation of labour. They viewed themselves as champions of the workers. Proudhon. he is. in failing to distinguish between actual labour-time and sociallynecessary labour-time. and this minimum is ascertained by competition’. not created by it. through the ‘subordination of man to machine or by the extreme division of labour’. Labour is equalised. they ended up defining the new society on the basis of 11. In capitalism. This abstract equivalent is the source and substance of value. 12.╇ Ibid. ‘It is upon this equality. man is nothing. in a sense. 136.╇ Ibid.12 In other words. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  97 same time’. that M. ‘What determines value is not the time taken to produce a thing. time’s carcass. It is important to note that this social average is ascertained by competition. irrespective of their human needs or bodily capacities. 127. p.╇ Marx 1976b.13 As competition reveals the minimum-amount of labour-time necessary.11 Value is not determined by the actual amount of time employed to create a commodity.

╇ Marx 1976b. Proudhon’. p. is a consequence of a class-relationship in which concrete labour is governed by an equal standard – simple. instead of opposing the ‘equalisation’ that has living labour become dominated by an abstraction.16 Ideas have their own logic. There is no valueproduction without the ‘equalisation’ of labour – without living labour being dominated by a uniform abstraction. Marx also shows that Proudhon confuses the value of the commodity with the value of labour.╇ Marx 1976b. Marx contends. To Proudhon. All labour in capitalism is dominated by an abstraction. the problem of capitalism is not that it distributes value in an unequal manner in contradistinction to the principle of equalisation involved in its system of production.18 The unequal distribution of wealth. Proudhon dominated by an abstraction. the value of the commodity is equivalent to the value of labour that creates it. and the reason for its unequal forms of exchange. Marx argues that the problem of capitalism. 138. general labour. p. 17. the determination of value by labour time – the formula M. On these grounds. 188. Marx shows that such calls for equal exchange are based on an erroneous conflation of the value of labour with the value of the commodity: ‘It is going against economic facts to determine the relative value of commodities by the value of labour. and middlemen that make off with a portion of the workers’ value. labour in general.17 In sum.98  •  Chapter Two the cardinal principle of capitalism. 18. as a result of the ‘collisions between the worker and the employer who sought at all costs to depreciate the workers’ specialized ability’. is the equalising tendencies of value-production itself.╇ Marx 1976b. For Marx. The exchangerelation should be equalised by eliminating the class of capitalists. 128. usurers. independent of the intentions and political agendas that may inspire them. Proudhon gives us as the regenerating formula of the future – is therefore merely the scientific expression of the economic relations of present-day society. Proudhon endorses it as a principle of equality. it is to determine relative value by a relative value which itself needs to be determined’. Proudhon’s position is ‘accepting the 16. p. Marx concludes. he argues that there is no reason why workers should not receive the same value in wages (computed in labour-tokens or time-chits) as the value of the product. He accepts the equalisation of labour as a given in order to derive from it a principle of equal exchange. ‘After all. It is moving in a vicious circle. Instead. in contrast. . He has overlooked the contradictions inherent in capitalist production while seeking a modification in the form and mechanism of exchange-relations. as was clearly and precisely demonstrated by Ricardo long before M.

19 Here. While Proudhon embraces payment according to labourtime as the governing principle of ‘socialism’. he makes it clear that value-production is incompatible with socialism. p. He writes. the form of exchange of products corresponds to the form of production. and the former will change in consequence’. he not only directly discusses the nature of a postcapitalist society. Such a situation ‘negates individual exchange’ in that products are not exchanged based on the amount of labour-time embodied in them. 21. Instead. ‘Thus. even though their theoretical views rest on similar premises. making an apologyâ•›. There is.â•›. however. instead. Change the latter. in doing so. 134. 143. But such an agreement negates individual exchange’. Material production is now determined by the producers’ conscious decisions. 22. 20.â•›for a society without understanding it’. the exchange of equal quantities or hours of labour is possible only on condition that the number of hours to be spent on material production is agreed on beforehand.╇ Marx 1976b. he argues that alterations in the form of exchange follow from the transformation of relations of production: ‘In general. in Marx’s first public discussion of his economic theory. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  99 present state of affairs.╇ Ibid. the amount of time will be ‘agreed on beforehand’ by the associated producers. p. it is. in which 19. instead of by the autonomous force of valueproduction. Marx does not think that production-relations can be altered by tinkering with the form in which products are exchanged. he indicates that maintaining an exchange of equivalents based on value-production undermines the effort to effect a fundamental transformation in production-relations.╇ Marx 1976b. p. . Marx writes that Bray ‘proposes merely measures which he thinks good for a period of transition between existing society and a community regime’.22 Marx is here envisaging a situation in which a social average that operates behind the workers’ backs – socially-necessary labour-time – no longer dictates the amount of time that the worker must spend producing a given product. in short. Marx appears to be unequivocal on this point: ‘Either you want the correct proportions of past centuries with present-day means of production.20 Does Marx therefore endorse an alteration of exchange-relations based on paying workers the value of their labour as a transitional form that could lead to a new society? A close reading of The Poverty of Philosophy suggests that the answer is in the negative. 142.â•›.╇ Marx 1976b. if all the members of society are supposed to be immediate workers. an important difference between Proudhon’s position and those of the English utopian socialists.21 Moreover.

╇ Marx did not provide a title for the work.╇ Marx 1976b.100  •  Chapter Two case you are both reactionary and utopian. p. is itself nothing but the reflection of the actual world. and that therefore it is totally impossible to reconstitute society on the basis of what is merely an embellished shadow of it. Or you want progress without anarchy: in which case. 25. The manuscript on ‘Wages’. Marx’s first book-length draft of Capital26 (although it can be considered the ‘second draft’ in light of his writings of 1847). is the actual body of the existing society. The workers themselves thus give into the hands of their enemies the weapons to preserve the existing organization of society which subjugates them’. therefore – at least for Marx – no room for a ‘transition’ to socialism based on the governing principles of the old society. In proportion as this shadow takes on substance again. you must abandon individual exchange’. it covers the subject-matter that is contained in all three volumes of what eventually became Capital. far from being the transfiguration dreamt of.25 There is. Marx terms this ‘the golden chain by which the government holds a large part of the working class. The ‘second draft’ of Capital: the Grundrisse (1858) The Grundrisse. 138. . p. this corrective ideal that he would like to apply to the world. is a remark23. established by the government. 427.╇ Marx 1976b. written in December 1847. Different as it is from Capital in many respects. The manner in which he further develops this argument emerges as one of the central themes in his subsequent drafts of what will eventually become Volume I of Capital. 26. p. 144.24 He sums up his critique thusly: Mr. He is especially critical of Bray for proposing a national savings-bank. we perceive that this substance. Bray does not see that this egalitarian relation. he remains sharply critical of Bray’s perspective. He conceives of a sharper break between capitalism and the transition to socialism than that advocated by its neo-Ricardian socialist critics.23 Hence. although Marx notes that Bray upholds the principle of the determination of value by labour-time as a transitional form to a new society rather than the governing principle of socialism itself. to regulate the distribution of labour-tokens or time-chits. it was entitled the Grundrisse or ‘rough draft’ by its editors.╇ Marx 1976d. in order to preserve the productive forces. 24. is part of his studies associated with his initial efforts to work out a critique of political economy and is closely connected with the content of The Poverty of Philosophy.

The first full English translation appeared in 1973. with no subheadings or divisions into parts. were published in 1902–4 in Die Neue Zeit. ‘The Chapter on Money’ is about 150 pages long. Indeed. in many respects. Marx was gravely concerned about this and devoted considerable space in the Grundrisse to distinguishing Proudhon’s concept of a new society from his own. while ‘The Chapter on Capital’ comes to over 650 pages. See Marx 1973. One reason for this is that the Grundrisse begins with a lengthy criticism of the concept of a postcapitalist society promoted by French and English socialists of the time. Very few copies of this edition ever reached the Western world and the work was not widely known until the 1960s. The latter’s sway over the labour and socialist movements had not receded by 1857–8. with a critique of Louis Alfred Darimon. contained in Volumes 28 and 29 of the Marx-Engels Collected Works. At the same time. it can be argued that no single work of Marx discusses a future postcapitalist society as directly or as comprehensively. edited by Karl Kautsky. I am here making use of the more recent translation published in the late 1980s and early 1990s. instead. a leading French follower of Proudhon who advocated a reform of the banking system through the creation of a currency based on denominations of labour-time. Marx writes. Written in 1857–8 but not published until 1939. As Marx moves on to deal with other issues in the rest of the work – such as the difference between indirectly and directly social labour. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  101 able work of over eight hundred pages that contains a wealth of important philosophical insights. in German. the original manuscript contains only two chapters. the contradiction between necessary and surplus labour-time. . 27. it has sparked numerous re-examinations and reconsiderations of Marx’s contribution as a whole since it became widely available in the 1970s. Marx referred to the ‘shapelessness’ of the manuscript in his correspondence. Marx begins the first chapter of the Grundrisse.╇ Parts of the Grundrisse. when the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute in Moscow published it in two volumes. and the phases that characterise human development – he discusses the contours of a postcapitalist society to an extent not found in many of his other works.28 which deals with money. the work did not appear in full until 1939–41. Proudhon especially. much of the Grundrisse’s critique of Proudhon and other socialists returns to. However. and further develops.27 What is especially striking about the Grundrisse is its wealth of discussion of the alternative to capitalism. 28 . his ideas had become more influential than ever. such as the fragment ‘Bastiat and Carey’ and its ‘Introduction’.╇ Aside from the ‘Introduction’ and the fragment on ‘Bastiat and Carey’ (which deals with the historical specificity of capitalism in the USA). the points Marx had earlier formulated in 1847 in The Poverty of Philosophy.

contends Darimon. he argues.╇ Marx 1986a. given that labour is the source of all value? The reason. at their price. is the sphere of distribution. As Marx sees it. in that the latter propose paper-tokens or vouchers representing actual labour-time whereas Darimon prefers gold labourtokens. 30.╇ Marx 1986a. The ‘unregulated’ nature of the medium of circulation. do capitalists accumulate so much wealth. thought that it was possible to ‘revolutionise’ relations of production through an alteration of the medium of exchange. as denominated in money. To achieve this.30 Marx engages in a lengthy and complex criticism of Darimon’s position.31 as spelled out in the ‘Introduction’ to the Grundrisse.╇ Marx 1986a. is the ‘irrational’ nature of the medium of exchange. Marx objects to this on the grounds that ‘The struc29. both positions rest upon the same fundamental (and mistaken) set of premises. 60. Why.╇ Darimon’s proposal is somewhat different from that of the English socialists whom Marx also addresses in his critique. p. 32. 25. according to the actual amount of labour-time that it takes to produce them – instead of indirectly through the medium of money – the very existence of the capitalist would become superfluous. altering the medium of circulation would abolish class-society. Commodities are not sold at their value but. instead. which deals with specific historical formations. money.32 Mill’s view that productionrelations adhere to eternal natural laws led him to argue that the proper object of political economy. He there takes issue with such political economists as John Stuart Mill for viewing relations of production as governed by ‘eternal natural laws independent of history’. however. distribution. p. p. Hence. 31. and circulation’. Darimon asks. like Proudhon and many of the English socialists of the time.102  •  Chapter Two The general question is: is it possible to revolutionize the existing relations of production and the corresponding relations of distribution by means of changes in the instrument of circulation – changes in the organization of circulation? A further question: can such a transformation of circulation be accomplished without touching the existing relations of production and the social relations based on them?29 Darimon. Much of it is based on his understanding of ‘the inner connection between the relations of production. Darimon proposed creating a national bank to regulate the medium of circulation by replacing money with gold-tokens representing the amount of labour-time that workers perform in producing a given set of commodities. . is the lever that enables capitalists to ‘unfairly’ pay workers less than the value of their labour. which alters and distorts the determination of value by labourtime. He argues that if commodities were directly sold at their ‘true value’. 61.

This is like saying ‘Let the Papacy remain. Consumption – without which production cannot be realised – corresponds to the Hegelian category of the Individual. and Individual.╇ See Hegel 1979a. every product of labour (as computed in labour-time) gets placed in the position of serving as the universal equivalent. ‘This identity of production and consumption amounts to Spinoza’s proposition: determinatio est negatio’. In passages that recall his earlier discussion in The Poverty of Philosophy. One product of labour can be exchanged for all products of labour only if labour itself is dominated by an abstraction. while leaving its commodification intact. p. p.╇ Marx 1986a. 65. distribution and exchange. subsumed by an abstract universal – abstract labour. Particular. instead of in money. pp. He wants to change the manner in which labour is remunerated. ‘Production. it does not determine. money.╇ Marx 1986a. but make everyone Pope.37 In the name of getting rid of the prevailing universal equivalent. it is a mediatory moment between production and consumption. he writes.35 Distribution or exchange is not an independent sphere in its own right. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  103 ture of distribution is entirely determined by the structure of production’. since workers are to be paid in a labour-voucher. 664–704. 32. . 27. it is governed. Distribution and exchange is the medium by which the Universal is individualised. 34. instead of calling for the abolition of wage-labour itself. p. 37. it is determined. but one cannot exist without the other: they co-exist in a state of negative self-relation. p.╇ Another way to state this is to say that production and consumption represent a unity of opposites mediated by way of distribution and exchange. it corresponds to the Hegelian concept of the Particular. This completely overlooks what allows a universal equivalent to exist in the first place. is the determinant category of capitalist society and therefore represents the Hegelian concept of the Universal. 28. As Marx puts it. Marx contends that Darimon dethrones money from its special role as universal equivalent by proposing that the quantity of labour-time assume that particular role. 35.╇ Marx 1986a. Yet this retains the need for a universal equivalent with which labour can be bought and sold.33 He develops this by directly employing the central Hegelian categories of Universal.34 Production. Production and consumption are opposites and non-identical. Do away with money by turning every commodity into money and endowing it with the specific properties of money’. It does not govern. Darimon and Proudhon’s plan for the 33. 36. and consumption thus form a proper syllogism’. Marx contends that Darimon’s error lies in advocating a change in the form of wage-labour. See Marx 1986a.36 This serves as the philosophical basis of his criticism of Darimon’s economic theories.

For instance. He indicates that it would actually make matters worse. Such régimes eliminated private property and the ‘free market’ by bringing the process of distribution and circulation under the control of the state. what Marx here subjects to critique is a striking anticipation of what passed for ‘Marxism’ in many ‘socialist’ and ‘communist’ régimes of the twentieth century. He first asks if it is worthwhile to tinker with the form of money or the market ‘without abolishing the production relation itself which is expressed in the category of money. its antagonisms. precisely because value-production rests on a non-identity or non-equivalence between production and consumption. one way or another. Marx’s discussion in the Grundrisse suggests that a planned economy – so long as there is no fundamental change in relations of production – may avoid some of the inconveniences of traditional market-capitalism. actually reach a higher degree’. instead of a surplus of products that cannot be consumed (which characterises traditional capitalism). there is a shortage of products that cannot be produced (which characterised statist ‘socialism’). 39.╇ Marx 1986a. routinised activity through the dominance of abstract labour. p.104  •  Chapter Two reform of money not only fails to transform relations of production in which labour is dominated by an abstraction. 71. etc. since it would create an even greater despotism than what exists under traditional market-capitalism: ‘The inconveniences resulting from the existence of a special instrument of exchange. but the problems end up becoming reproduced on another level. the conflict of classes.40 38. But they did little or nothing to transform productionrelations. Abstract labour continued to serve as the substance of value. 40. Imbalances between production and consumption are bound to show up. . 61. so long as the relations of production are not transformed. of a special and yet general equivalent. while its contradictions. p. 65. Marx puts the matter as follows: ‘The money system in its present form can be completely regulated – all the evils deplored by Darimon abolished – without the abandonment of the present social basis: indeed. but it pushes matters further in that very direction by bestowing universal equivalency upon all commodities. Marx is not simply arguing that their approach would fail to improve matters. are bound to reproduce themselves (if in different ways) in every form’ – even if it may ‘entail fewer inconveniences than another’.╇ Marx 1986a.╇ Marx 1986a. and whether it is not then necessarily a self-defeating effort to overcome the essential conditions of relationship by effecting a formal modification within it’. Concrete labour was still reduced to a monotonous.39 Ironically. p.38 Marx suggests this would be a waste of time.

means abolishing exchange value. by focusing first of all on transforming exchangerelations. What Marx means by ‘revolutionizing bourgeois society economically’ is a radical transformation of production-relations that would create correspondingly new relations of distribution. He argues that taking the contrary approach. that gold and silver tend to depreciate relative to other commodities in periods of economic growth. but 41. do away with prices. in turn. Then it would have become evident from the start that the evils of bourgeois society cannot be remedied by banal ‘transformations’ or the establishment of a rational ‘money system’. and often to the detriment of the workers. Marx illustrates this by further developing the distinction posed in The Poverty of Philosophy between actual labour-time and socially-necessary labourtime. 72. would put an end to such inequities. Darimon claimed. not only leaves production-relations intact but also fails to resolve the problems of exchange that so concern the Proudhonists in the first place. in its turn. Organising exchange through a national banking system based on labour-vouchers. Yet he does not agree with Darimon’s proposed solution. That means. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  105 One reason that Darimon and Proudhon objected so strenuously to money as the medium of exchange is that gold and silver tend to appreciate in value relative to other commodities in periods of economic crisis.41 Marx here endorses efforts to eliminate the deleterious impact of price-fluctuations on the agents of production. This last entails the problem of revolutionizing bourgeois society economically. requires the abolition of the system of exchange corresponding to the bourgeois organization of society. He argues. the former’s income tends to rise even as the latter falls. Marx does not deny that prices of commodities wildly fluctuate in periods of economic growth and crisis. . Does he have a solution of his own to offer? I would argue that he does. Marx counters that he overlooks the other side of the issue – namely. But why does he so sharply criticise the Proudhonists for proposing alterations in the sphere of exchange? The reason is that the abolition of prices and exchange-value presupposes a revolutionary transformation of the underlying relations of production. which. Formulated in this way. p.╇ Marx 1986a. Since the wealthier classes tend to possess greater amount of precious metals and money than workers. He writes. ‘Not the labour time incorporated in [previous] output. the riddle would have solved itself at once: abolish the rise and fall in prices. That. He explicitly refers to the ‘abolition’ of prices and exchange-value.

Yet Darimon does not realise that his labour-money will tend to depreciate in value. Marx notes that this situation would in no way be altered if workers were paid in paper-vouchers (as advocated by many English and French socialists of the time). But they . therefore. 44. they fail to see that their ‘solution’ – reorganising exchange-relations to conform to the determination of value by labour-time – would do nothing to correct the deleterious impact of the depreciation of the medium of exchange. p. The one would simply be a representative of labour hours. 43. but also in that the latter appears as the law of the movements to which the former is subject. The French – and many English – socialists considered value to be real and necessary. They considered price to be fictive and unnecessary. not only by its denomination in gold and silver. since it is determined by the quantity of labour-time spent in producing an object.╇ See Marx 1986a.╇ Ibid.106  •  Chapter Two the currently necessary labour time determines value’. instead of in gold or silver labour-money: ‘The labour time embodied in the paper itself would be of as little account as the paper value of banknotes. that living labour becomes more and more productive. p. Marx writes. workers would have less ability to ‘buy back’ the value of their product than in a traditional monetary economy. since the average amount of labour-time necessary to produce a given commodity tends to fall.43 Darimon sees only the appreciation of gold and silver during an economic crisis. as the other is of gold or silver’. since it is determined by the whim of supply and demand.45 This average is established behind the backs of the producers 42. and that the labour time objectified in products therefore continually depreciates. In the long run. ‘According to the general economic law that production costs fall continually. They therefore wanted to replace commodityprices with labour-tokens that express the ‘real’ value of the product.44 Marx shows that all of these efforts to address social problems by tinkering with the form of remuneration or exchange rest on the illusion that the distinction between value and price is arbitrary and unnecessary. 45. but only by the average amount of time that is socially necessary for doing so. constant depreciation would be the inevitable fate of this gold labour money’. Marx counters that price cannot be treated as a mere nominal expression of value. 75: ‘Price. 73. not only as the nominal differs from the real. The labour-tokens are bound to depreciate as the mode of production undergoes innovation under the pressure of competition.42 Proudhon and his followers conflate the two. differs from value.╇ Ibid.╇ Marx 1986a. Value must diverge from price because the value of the commodity is not determined by the actual number of hours engaged in producing the commodity. As a result.

The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  107

and is never directly observed or even known by them. Hence, commodities never sell at their value; they sell at prices that are above or below their value. It cannot be otherwise in a society in which the value of the product is established behind the backs of the producers, independent of their conscious activity. Marx writes, ‘The market value equates itself to the real value by means of constant fluctuations, not by an equation with real value as some third thing, but precisely through continual inequality of itself (not, as Hegel would say, by abstract identity, but by a continual negation of the negation, i.e., of itself as the negation of the real value)’.46 Marx finds much that is irrational in price-formation under capitalism, since prices are not determined by the conscious decisions of the agents of production. But this is because value-production is itself inherently irrational insofar as the value of the commodity is not determined by the conscious decisions by the agents of production. To leave production-relations intact while attempting to eliminate the ‘irrationality’ of price-formation on the market is inherently selfdefeating, since it assumes away the very irrationality of value-production of which it is the expression. The essence of Marx’s critique centres on the non-equivalence of actual labour-time and socially-necessary labour-time, on the one hand, and the non-equivalence of value and price, on the other. Taken together, both indicate that the labour-vouchers proposed by Darimon and Proudhon are in principle nonconvertible. Marx writes, ‘The labour-time ticket, which represents the average labour-time, would never correspond to the actual labour-time, and never be convertible into it’.47 Since socially-necessary labour-time is a constantly shifting magnitude, the amount of value embodied in the commodity would never be the same as the nominal ‘value’ (or price) of the product expressed in the labour-token. It is, of course, possible to consciously assign a given value to a labour-voucher based on the number of hours of labour-time that it expresses. However, the ‘value’ of that voucher will never coincide with the actual value of the commodity, which is determined by the average amount of time necessary to produce it – an average that cannot be consciously assigned since it undergoes constant change and variation.48 The labour-token would

are always distinct and never coincide, or only quite fortuitously and exceptionally. The price of the commodities always stands above or below their value’. 46.╇ Marx 1986a, p. 75. 47.╇ Marx 1986a, pp. 76–7. Emphases in the original. 48.╇ Such efforts to consciously plan out the ‘value’ of the commodity characterised the command-economies of the Soviet Union and Maoist China. That their statecapitalist economic plans, no matter how elaborate, failed to overcome the discrepancies between the nominal and real value of the commodity was reflected in the

108  •  Chapter Two

never command the same ‘value’ as the actual value of the commodity; in fact, the value of the former would depreciate in comparison with the latter. Hence, the labour-tokens would be non-equivalent or non-convertible. But without such convertibility, the labour-token could not function as a medium of exchange – which is the entire reason for proposing them in the first place! Marx concludes,
Because price does not equal value, the element determining value, labour time, cannot be the element in which prices are expressed. For labour time would have to express itself at once as the determining and the non-determining element, as the equivalent and the non-equivalent of itself. Because labour time as a measure of value only exists ideally, it cannot serve as the material for the comparison of prices.49

On these grounds, he contends,
Just as it is impossible to abolish complications and contradictions arising from the existence of money alongside specific commodities by changing the form of moneyâ•›.â•›.â•›.â•›[I]t is likewise impossible to abolish money itself, so long as exchange value remains the social form of products. It is essential to understand this clearly, so as not to set oneself impossible tasks, and to know the limits within which monetary reform and changes in circulation can remodel the relations of production and the social relations based upon them.50

So far it may seem that Marx’s critique is primarily negative, in that he emphasises his opposition to the Proudhonist conception of how to organise a postcapitalist society. Does his critique posit or at least imply an alternative to capitalism? I will argue that as he further develops his discussion, a positive vision of the future does begin to emerge – especially as he goes deeper into the reasons why the labour-vouchers advocated by the Proudhonists are nonconvertible. Later, at the end of the ‘Chapter on Money’, Marx notes that ‘this particular labour time cannot be directly exchanged for every other particular labour time; its general exchangeability must first be mediated, it must

widespread existence of a black market in goods and services. Where planning is, in principle, incapable of ‘rationally’ allocating resources through the calculation of commodity-values on the basis of political or other non-economic factors, the market will continue to manifest itself, in however distorted or non-traditional a form. This can also be seen as a major reason why virtually all of the state-command economies eventually found it necessary to reconcile theory with reality by openly embracing market-capitalism, in one or another variant. 49.╇ Marx 1986a, p. 77. 50.╇ Marx 1986a, p. 83.

The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  109

acquire an objective form distinct from itself, if it is to acquire this general exchangeability’.51 Labour-time cannot be directly exchanged for labour-time because labour is indirectly social so long as capitalist production-relations prevail. We have already seen a reason for this in the distinction between actual labour-time and socially-necessary labour-time: the former expresses a specific number of hours of labour engaged in by a worker, while the latter expresses a social average that operates irrespective of that worker. Hence, the value of the product is not determined directly by the particular acts of the producers, but indirectly, through a social average of many acts of labour among an array of individuals. What does it mean to say that labour is indirectly social under capitalism? The abstract, undifferentiated, and indirect character of labour in societies governed by value-production reaches its full expression in money. Money, as the universal equivalent, connects one individual’s labour and product of labour to someone else’s. The social connection between individuals is established through the mediation of exchange. Yet this social relation is indirect since one individual is connected to another through an abstraction – a universal equivalent. Under capitalism, individuals are socially connected through the indirect medium of money because the production-relation that exchange is based upon is itself indirect. As Marx puts it, money ‘can possess a social character only because the individuals have alienated their own social relationship in the form of an object’.52 This is why ‘this particular labour time cannot be directly exchanged for every other particular labour time’. The advocates of the labour-voucher assume that value-production is compatible with direct social relations, since a given unit of labour-time is (presumably) directly exchangeable for an equivalent product created in the same amount of time. Indeed, Proudhon and his followers assume that the determination of value by labour-time is the condition for a truly ‘rational’ and direct system of commodity-exchange. But their position becomes implausible as soon as it is recognised that value-production is anything but directly social. Proudhon wants to eliminate the indirect character of exchange by harmonising relations of exchange with value-production, social relations of production that are themselves indirect. In the course of elaborating upon this difference between directly and indirectly social labour – the first time in his writings that he has made this distinction – Marx enters into a discussion of what he sees as the content of a new society. He writes,

51.╇ Marx 1986a, p. 107. 52.╇ Marx 1986a, p. 97.

110  •  Chapter Two Now if this assumption is made, the general character of labour would not be given to it only by exchange; its assumed communal character would determine participation in the products. The communal character of production would from the outset make the product into a communal, general one. The exchange initially occurring in production, which would not be an exchange of exchange values but of activities determined by communal needs and communal purposes, would include from the beginning the individual’s participation in the communal world of productsâ•›.â•›.â•›.â•›labour would be posited as general labour prior to exchange, i.e., the exchange of products would not in any way be the medium mediating the participation of the individual in general production. Mediation of course has to take place.53

This is a remarkable passage that is worth close analysis. First, Marx acknowledges that labour would have a ‘general’ character in a new society. However, its generality would be radically different from what exists in capitalism, where discrete acts of individual labour become connected to one another (or are made general) through the act of commodity-exchange. In contrast, labour becomes general in the new society prior to the exchange of products, on the basis of the ‘the communal character of production’ itself. The community distributes the elements of production according to the individuals’ needs, instead of being governed by social forms that operate independently of their deliberation. Labour is general insofar as the community directly decides the manner and form of production. Marx is not referring here to the existence of small, isolated communities that operate in a world dominated by value-production. As noted above, Marx never adhered to the notion that socialism was possible in one country, let alone in one locale.54 He is pointing, instead, to a communal network of associations in which value-production has been superseded on a systemic level. Labour is therefore directly social, not indirectly social. Second, Marx acknowledges that exchange of some sort would exist in a new society. However, exchange would be radically different from what prevails in capitalism, which is governed by the exchange of commodities. Instead of being based on exchange-values, prices, or markets,
53.╇ Marx 1986a, p. 108. 54.╇ Considerable confusion continues to characterise contemporary discussions of ‘socialism’ when it comes to this issue. The proclamation of a ‘Bolivarian road to socialism’, for instance, as advanced by Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, does not, obviously, provide a reason to designate the society itself as socialist – regardless of the amount of national industry and resources that are brought under the direct control of the government. This is not to suggest that nationalisation of foreign-owned industry and property is not an important and progressive measure. It is to suggest that it is insufficient to characterise that society as socialist or even as moving towards socialism.

The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  111

distribution would be governed by an exchange of activities that are ‘determined by communal needs and communal purposes’. The latter determines the exchange of activities, instead of being determined by the exchange of products that operate independently of it. Third, Marx acknowledges that social mediation would exist in a new society. However, mediation would be radically different from that under capitalism, where it has an abstract character, since ‘mediation takes place through the exchange of commodities, through exchange value’ and money. In socialism, in contrast, ‘the presupposition is itself mediated, i.e., communal production, community as the basis of production, is assumed. The labour of the individual is from the outset taken as [directly] social labour’.55 Marx’s distinction between indirectly and directly social labour is central to his evolving concept of a postcapitalist society – not only in the Grundrisse but also (as I will attempt to show) in much of his later work. He contends that in capitalism the ‘social character of production is established only post festum by the elevation of the products into exchange values and the exchange of these exchange values’, whereas in socialism, ‘The social character of labour is presupposed, and participation in the world of products, in consumption, is not mediated by exchange between mutually independent labourers of products of labour. It is mediated by social production within which the individual carries on his activity’.56 Marx is envisaging a totally new kind of social mediation, one that is direct, instead of indirect, sensuous, instead of abstract: ‘For the fact is that labour on the basis of exchange values presupposes that neither the labour of the individual nor his product is directly general, but that it acquires this form only through objective mediation by means of a form of money distinct from it’.57 In sum, a society is governed by exchange-value only insofar as the sociality of labour is established not through itself, but through an objective form independent of itself. Such a society is an alienated one, since (as Marx showed from as early as his writings of 1843–4), the domination of individuals by objective forms of their own making is precisely what is most problematic and indeed perverse about capitalism. Marx proceeds to go deeper into what he means by directly social ‘communal production’ by addressing the role of time in a new society. He writes, ‘Ultimately, all economy is a matter of economy of time’.58 All societies strive to reduce the amount of time spent on producing and reproducing the necessities of life. No society is more successful at doing so than capitalism, in which
55.╇ Marx 1986a, p. 108. 56.╇ Marx 1986a, pp. 108–9. 57.╇ Marx 1986a, p. 109. 58.╇ Ibid.

livestock. The less time society requires to produce corn. free trade and globalisation is to extend such efficiencies of time into all sectors of the capitalist economy.60 Marx does not detail exactly how the economisation of time operates in a society governed by communal production. Instead of being consumed by having and possessing. It becomes a law even to a much higher degree. One of the arguments by capitalists for privatisation.╇ Marx 1986a. therefore. individuals can now focus upon what is given short shrift in societies governed by value- 59.59 Marx repeatedly refers to this as capitalism’s ‘civilising mission’. But how does the economisation of time relate to a new society governed by ‘communal production’? Marx indicates that it becomes just as important as in capitalism. etc.â•›. The current drive in the USA and Europe to privatise public-sector employment can be seen as one reflection of this. the time factor naturally remains essential. capitalism is far more effective at generating efficiencies of time than were precapitalist modes of production. we can surmise that he sees the motivation for the economisation of time in a new society as resting upon the effort to achieve what he called in 1844 a ‘totality of manifestations of life’. . Where competition is restricted or eliminated due to social or political factors.112  •  Chapter Two production-relations force individual units of labour to conform to the average amount of time necessary to produce a given commodity. the text mentions no single mechanism or lever for accomplishing this. p. although it exists in a different form and for a different purpose: If we presuppose communal production. the more time it wins for other production. When society is freed from the narrow drive to augment value as an end in itself. material or spiritualâ•›. my emphases. Since this compulsion issues from within the production-process. 60. such efficiencies of time will generally not be as forthcoming. remains the first economic law if communal production is taken as the basis.â•›Economy of time. However. However. this is essentially different from the measurement of exchange values (of labours or products of labour) by labour time.╇ This applies most of all to sectors of the capitalist economy that directly feel the pressure to organise themselves according to the social average of labour-time because they are subject to competitive pressures. it can turn its attention to supplying the multiplicity of needs and wants that are integral to the social individual. as well as the planned distribution of labour time over the various branches of production. He says this because the development and satisfaction of the individual ultimately depends upon the saving of time so that life can be freed up for pursuits other than engaging in material production.. 109.â•›. in light of his earlier writings. instead of from a political authority which lords over it from outside.

95–6. However. from value’s need to grow big with value. sharing and loving is not. and spiritual capabilities. the need for caring. to reduce the amount of hours engaged in material production. is ‘personal independence based upon dependence mediated by things’.62 Satisfaction is obtained on the basis of a narrow and relatively under-developed. social. at the same time as they conflate and exaggerate other ones. their manifold sensuous and intellectual needs. Dead labour. 62. labour is now indirectly social. below. The second stage.61 in socialism it is provided by the concrete sensuous needs of the individuals themselves. patriarchal standpoint. dominates living labour. so that such multiple needs (such as cultural. Marx further spells out his concept of a postcapitalist society in the Grundrisse by outlining the three broad stages of human history. but from within. pp. .╇ Marx had earlier argued in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 that societies dominated by exchange-value narrow and constrict many needs. even as the personal bonds that connect them are broken up and dissolved: ‘Their production is not directly social. owning. is based on personal dependence. Individuals are subsumed under social production. p. I will return to this. The more people get in touch with their universality of needs. which characterises precapitalist societies. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  113 production – their being. Social relations dominate and control the individual. not the offspring of association distributing labour within itself’. A major issue that concerns Marx in the Grundrisse is the extent to which capitalism’s ‘civilising mission’ of achieving greater economisation of time comes at the expense of hollowing out the richness of the human personality. In such societies ‘human productivity develops only to a limited extent and at isolated points’. The social power of the individual develops in accordance with exchangevalue and money. sensuous. 63. from the quest to manifest the totality of the individuals’ intellectual. in the form of capital. or intellectual enjoyment) can be pursued and satisfied. value – both of which are products of their own creation. whereas in capitalism the incentive to economise time is provided by an abstract standard. individuals are formally ‘free’ but they are actually dominated not only things but also by an abstraction. The first stage.63 Dissatisfaction is obtained on the basis of a broad and relatively developed standpoint. the greater the incentive to economise time.╇ Marx 1986a.╇ Marx 1986a. labour is directly social but unfree. and consuming is amplified by capitalism. The drive to economise time no longer comes from outside the individuals. vizir or pharaoh. exchange-value. which characterises capitalism. Whereas the need for having. 95. this ‘second stage’ creates the conditions for the 61. The individual is personally dependent on the lord or king. In a word. whether ‘material or spiritual’. In capitalism. subjective powers are now expressed in an objective form.

Marx does not here use the word socialism or communism to describe a postcapitalist society.╇ Marx 66.114  •  Chapter Two third stage. In contrast. What predominates is ‘the free exchange of individuals who are associated on the basis of common appropriation and control of the means of production’. Marx elaborates upon this by writing that in capitalism. Remarkably. Proudhon. ‘The individuals are subsumed under social production. p. based on the universal development of the individuals and the subordination of their communal. The individual now becomes the social entity. in a socialist or postcapitalist society the universal needs of the individual determine social development. 95. and the English neoRicardian radicals. Relations of personal dependence are transcended. Marx appears to be trying to distinguish himself from other opponents of capitalism by further clarifying his understanding of the alternative to it. 1986a. relate to each other on the basis of their mutually-acknowledged universal needs and capabilities. The word ‘communism’ appears even more rarely.╇ Marx 67.╇ Marx 1986a. Marx denies 64. but social production is not subsumed under the individuals who manage it as their common wealth’. 1975r.67 In capitalism individuals are subsumed by social production insofar as relations of production and exchange take on a life of their own and confront the individual as a hostile force. most of Marx’s references to ‘socialism’ in the Grundrisse are critical references to the standpoint of Darimon. which is their social possession’. 96. In fact. instead.╇ Marx 65. 96. Marx sharply distinguishes this third stage of history from precapitalist formations. since it is based upon the ‘universal development of individuals’. 1986a. in that society and/or the community no longer dominate the individual. The ‘free individuality’ that defines the third stage is a very different kind of individuality than that found in capitalism. 299.64 Labour is now both directly social and free. which exists outside them as their fate. where augmenting value – as expressed most of all in obtaining money – is considered the greatest good. p. social productivity. Marx refers to this stage as follows: ‘Free individuality.65 Marx is suggesting that capitalism narrows our individuality in that every aspect of life is reduced to one and only one sense: the sense of having or possession. . p. p. He instead refers to it as ‘free individuality’. postcapitalist society. The wealth and multi-dimensionality of the individual’s needs and desires are narrowed down and hollowed out in capitalism.66 He also sharply distinguishes the realm of free individuality from the second stage – capitalism – because individuals are no longer cut off from connection or communion with one another but.

The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  115 that capitalist society respects the freedom of the individual. now also produces the universality and generality of all their relations and abilities’. He conceives of the new society as the realm of free individuality. a new society would lack the incentivising principle for economising on labour-time. and the exploration and exchange of all natural and spiritual powers’. p. Valueproduction acts as the great dissolver of firm and fixed social relations.╇ See Marx 1987a. that every country in the world therefore must first undergo capitalism before it . the ‘free individuality’ that Marx conceives of as defining the third stage ‘presupposes precisely the production on the basis of exchange value.╇ See Kosik 1976. pp. instead. It is therefore quite pointless to speak of a new society as one in which the freedom of individuals is overcome by subjecting them to the control of social relations because this is exactly what governs the social relations of capitalism.69 Capitalism gives rise to the idea of free individuality even as it subsumes individuals under social relations of their own making. the differentiation of production. it dominates and controls individuals under social relations of their own making. 93.╇ Marx 1986a. He notes that ‘the dissolution of all products and activities into exchange values presuppose both the dissolution of all established personal (historical) relations of dependence in production. 337: ‘The beauty and greatness lies precisely in this spontaneously evolved connection. 70. Marx repeatedly argues in the Grundrisse that the third stage of human history arises from the ‘material and spiritual conditions’71 created by capitalism itself.╇ This should not be confused with the claim. Largely for this reason. 99.72 68. 69. But what about capitalism’s ‘civilising mission’? Marx does not leave aside the contributions of capitalism as he envisages a new society. along with the universality of the estrangement of individuals from others.╇ Marx 1986a. which. Marx does not envisage a new society as one in which the individual is ‘walled in’ by society. allowing individuals for the first time to conceive of themselves as self-determining subjects. Without the generation of such new needs and capacities. and the all-round dependence of producers upon one another’. 133: ‘It is precisely the production process of capital that gives rise to the material and spiritual conditions for the negation of wage-labour and capital’. To use Karel Kosik’s phrase.70 The achievement of a new society based on ‘free individuality’ depends on the formation of new needs and capabilities generated by capitalist relations of production and exchange. which became predominant among the Marxists of the Second International and among many others in the twentieth century.68 He argues that this is what occurs under capitalism. 72. 98. 71. in this material and spiritual exchange’ and ‘the expansion of the range of needs. Hence. p. p. See also Marx 1986a. Therein lies the perversity of capitalism.

the Grundrisse indicates that Marx was just as interested in how a historical understanding of the emergence of capitalist commodity-production could shed light on a future postcapitalist society. and China. and it has given rise to lively debates since it first became widely available (at least in German.75 At the same time.116  •  Chapter Two He sums this up in writing. Marx explicitly argued against that position in his writings on the Russian village-commune in particular at the end of his life.╇ It would be incorrect to presume that Marx was mainly concerned with the transition from feudalism to capitalism in this section of the Grundrisse. which he often referred to as ‘the so-called Asiatic mode of production’. see Bailey and Llobera (eds. or whether it must. Was it part of an effort to extend a ‘historical-materialist’ analysis of capitalism to a delineation of the forms of social production that have characterised all of human history? Or did Marx have a different aim in mind? There is no question that Marx was deeply interested in understanding the manner in which capitalist social relations emerged from out of the womb of precapitalist modes of production. 73.╇ For a discussion of how discussions of Marx’s analysis of precapitalist formations in the Grundrisse were stimulated by the Chinese Revolution of 1949. Instead. since he denied that feudalism characterised social relations in South Asia and China prior to the intervention of European imperialism. . 75. For more on this.╇ Marx 1986a. instead.74 At issue in many of these debates is why Marx accorded so much attention to precapitalist formations.’73 It makes a huge difference as to whether the effort to create a postcapitalist society arises from the womb of social relations already in existence. Russian and Chinese) in the 1950s. The ‘universally developed individuals’ that characterise the stage that follows capitalism are themselves a product of prior stages of historical development. see Anderson 2010. the Grundrisse contains a considerable amount of historical analysis of the development of capitalism as well as of precapitalist forms of production. The section on ‘Precapitalist Economic Formations’ is one of the most famous and widely-discussed sections of the Grundrisse. Largely for this reason. Russia. The latter range from discussions of the economic and social formations in the ancient Greco-Roman world to communal forms of labour and land-tenure that characterised precapitalist societies in India. p. 98. It is impossible to create a new society from scratch. ‘It is equally certain that individuals cannot subordinate their own social connections to themselves before they have created them. He points to this in writing.) 1981. he contended that such societies were characterised by a different mode of production. can be ready for socialism. see Marx 1975t as well as Hudis 2004a and Hudis 2010. Marx clearly rejects the notion that a new society can be constructed by turning one’s back on history. create such relations sui generis. 74. For an exploration of Marx’s position on this issue.

transcended premises. This proclivity to naturalise social relations is no less prevalent among philosophers. so [on the other hand] the present conditions of production appear as conditions which transcend themselves and thus posit themselves as historical premises for a new state of society. If. or at which bourgeois economy as a mere historical form of the production process points beyond itself towards earlier historical modes of productionâ•›. Marx contends that the analysis of earlier historical forms facilitates the effort to envisage future social forms. moreover. wagelabour does not represent a normatively ‘free’ contractual relation between employers and employees. especially when they have prevailed for a considerable length of time. The peculiar and transitory nature of capitalism is brought into focus by elucidating the marks that distinguish its relations of production from precapitalist forms. which we hope to be able to undertake as well. Thus shaking up this proclivity towards naturalisation. This correct approach. . Marx not only addresses the nature of a possible postcapitalist society when he directly comments on the future. creates a conceptual lens with which to discern intimations of the future. Marx argues that while capitalist wagelabour is superior in many respects to slavery in precapitalist societies. the examination of the past.╇ Marx 1986a.â•›. This is illuminated in a number of ways in the Grundrisse’s discussion of precapitalist economic forms.â•›These indications. In this sense. on the other hand. together with the correct grasp of the present. the capitalist. which makes it possible to see how such contradictions foreshadow their transcendence in a future form of social organisation. then also offer the key to the understanding of the past – a work in its own right. One way to challenge this tendency towards naturalisation is through the historical investigation of social formations that preceded capitalism. i. in turn. The antagonistic contradictions of the present historical form are brought into focus through an examination of the past. The social relations of any given society generally appear ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ in the eyes of its participants.76 Thus. 388–9.â•›. the movement coming into being. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  117 On the other hand – and this is much more important for us – our method indicates the points at which historical analysis must be introduced. but he also does so in drawing out a contrast between capitalist and precapitalist societies. pp. Wage-labourers are formally free insofar as they sell their capacity to labour to a discrete entity. First. as he shows in his comments about John Stuart Mill and others in the ‘Introduction’ to the Grundrisse. thus foreshadowing the future. in exchange for 76.e. the pre-bourgeois phases appear as merely historical. leads to points which indicate the transcendence of the present form of production relations.

╇ The Grundrisse is the first work in which Marx makes this all-important discussion between labour and labour-power. p. but rather for their potential or ability to work. individualized worker’. where no slave (or peasant) considers herself the equal of the master since a contractual relation is absent.╇ Marx 1986a. 79. In being paid not for their actual labour but only for their capacity to labour. It is. however. There is.╇ Marx 1986a. in precapitalist societies. or labour-capacity. an exchange of objectified labour for labour-capacity. is negated in its form as the labour of the particular. but labour power required to maintain himself. See Rockmore 2002. the active being of the workers is separated or alienated from the objective conditions of existence. which he does by objectifying himself in the form of a commodity. and. Marx is able to pinpoint a contradiction immanent to wage-labour that it is easy to overlook. the entire body of their labour. 413.╇ Marx 1986a. and which he maintains in selling it’. Therefore. 102. By contrasting such precapitalist forms with capitalism. slaves are not formally free since the master purchases not their capacity to labour but their actual labour – their full physical being. whose life it expresses. ‘Labour itself. . it appears to be a social form that best corresponds to the concept of freedom. capital’. Tom Rockmore summarises the concept thus: ‘What the worker offers is not labour. p. this condition of formal ‘equality’ seems to offer the best of all possible worlds. Matters are very different.78 Since the wagelabourer appears to act as a self-determining subject insofar as a contractual relationship is established with the capitalist. The capitalist pays the workers not for the actual amount of time worked. one of his own moments. p. the master simply imposes labour upon the slaves and decides arbitrarily how they shall live. and the latter is the quantified form of the power.80 Despite appearances. there is no equal exchange of objectified labour (in the form of capital) for living labour. In other terms. there is a difference between labour and labour time. 78. 393. a peculiar social relation in which the formal equality between capitalist and worker rests upon 77. instead. 80. The contractual relation between worker and capitalist rests on that basis. 390. ‘labour capacity in its totality appears to the free worker as his own property. 81. In capitalism. For many living in such a system. 398.77 In contrast. in this way.118  •  Chapter Two monetary remuneration. there is such a separation. p. there is no separation between the active being of persons and the ‘inorganic or objective conditions’79 of their existence. for it is surrendered to capital in return for objectified labour.81 Wage-labour is therefore far from being either natural or an expression of actual freedom. p. rather.╇ Marx 1986a. In slavery and serfdom. like its product. or product exchanged for money. or the capacity to produce commodities. over which he as subject exercises control. since ‘living labour appears as alien vis-à-vis labour capacity whose labour it is. in capitalism. for the product of labour itself’.

159–60. Second. The economic concept of value does not occur among the ancients. Third. the concept of free individuality abstracted from the communal conditions that prevail in modern capitalist societies. exist on the margins of precapitalist society. he argues that a society dominated by precapitalist communal forms.╇ See Marx 1986a. and ‘Asiatic’ communal forms found in any of his writings. Carthaginians. He denies that the ‘Asiatic’ form is a historical aberration. instead. Marx shows that the isolated individuality and atomisation that characterise modern capitalism are by no means natural or eternal. The concept of value wholly belongs to the latest political economy. He writes. exchange value was not the nexus rerum. arises and can only arise on the basis of developed social and economic relations. while relations of exchange and commodityproduction long preceded capitalism and are found in diverse forms of precapitalist societies. . by focusing on communal forms of association.83 It follows that. 84. It follows that wage-labour will come to an end with the abolition of alienated labour. p. but they had only a carrying trade and did not themselves produce. 83. They could live in the interstices of the ancient world. he argues. just as value-production and exchange-value do not dominate society prior to capitalism. like the Jews in Poland or in the Middle Ages’.╇ Marx 1987a. because that concept is the most abstract expression of capital itself and of the production based on it. p. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  119 the alienation of labour. Marx shows that. Slavic. including communal ones. pp. it appears as such only among the trading nations. the secret of capital is betrayed.╇ Marx 1986a. as is the case with exchange-value. The Grundrisse contains one of the most extensive treatments of the Germanic. despite the social backwardness and political despotism that were often associated with them. etc. ‘Man becomes individualized only through the process of history’. or in their ‘interstices’. The historical aberration is. The same is true of the concept of value itself. Relations of exchange. when set 82. As he puts it. invoked against fraud. Value as distinct from pretium [price] was a purely legal category. At least production was secondary among Phoenicians. 155: ‘In antiquity. The very concept of the atomised and independent individual. In the concept of value. only in capitalism do they define and determine social reproduction. production and distribution that precede capitalism.84 Moreover. they do not do so after capitalism. etc. 420. ‘seems very exalted.82 The subordination of the producers to relations of exchange that exist outside of their control is historically specific and is not at all ‘natural’.

411–12. It ceases to do so in Marx’s vision of a postcapitalist society. however. material wealth is not.╇ In a work written shortly after the completion of the Grundrisse. a mere means to the augmentation of value. if the narrow bourgeois form is peeled off. p. 411. through which he does not reproduce himself in any specific character. ..â•›.â•›. and does not seek to remain something he has already become. what is wealth is not the universality of the individual’s needs. there is no reason for wealth to forever exist in a value-form.╇ Marx 1986a. Instead. Marx is here returning to and deepening the conception he elaborated in 1844. not measured by any previously given yardstick – an end-in-itself.85 This suggests that just as non-communal forms of labour and production did not prevail prior to capitalism. In capitalism. The rich human being is simultaneously the human being in need of a totality of human manifestations of life – the man in whom his own realization exists as 85. without any precondition other than the preceding historical development. produced in universal exchange. but is in the absolute movement of becoming?86 Although there is much that could be said of this striking passage.87 In such a society. the development of human powers as such. capacities. what is it if not the full development of human control over the forces of nature – over the forces of so-called Nature. in which production is the end of man. material wealth takes the form of value. as follows: In fact. 86. wealth – understood as the unfolding of the richness of the human personality – now becomes an end in itself. pp. but produces his totality.╇ Marx 1986a. as well as those of his own nature? What is wealth if not the absolute unfolding of man’s creative abilities.e. instead of expressing the reduction of human sensuousness to the abstraction of value. when he wrote: ‘It will be seen how in place of the wealth and poverty of political economy come the rich human being and the rich human need.â•›is the complete enjoyment not only of the necessities of life but also of all the superfluities and of all that can give pleasure to the senses. 87.. In a new society. Marx quotes favourably the comment of Pierre Le Pesant Boisguillebert: ‘True wealthâ•›. which makes the totality of this development – i. Marx fleshes out this conception by directly addressing the contours of a postcapitalist society. they would not prevail after capitalism.’ See Marx 1987b. wealth becomes reconfigured from a merely quantitative to a qualitative determinant. however. productive forces. 295. wealth becomes ‘the absolute unfolding of man’s creative abilities’. what stands out most of all is the distinction Marx makes between material wealth and value-production. as in capitalism.120  •  Chapter Two against the modern world. etc. enjoyments. and wealth the end of production’. p.

are generated in order to service capital’s thirst for self-expansion. p. as need’. but deepens it. it desires beyond everything that can simply complete it. no ‘previouslygiven’ yardstick independent of the individuals’ subjective self-activity governs social development in a postcapitalist society. 304. with its hunger. Value. 90. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  121 an inner necessity. .89 The latter serves as the ‘yardstick’ of social development.â•›. Such needs.88 For Marx the new society is the realm in which the development of the totality of human powers is its own end. not a bringing together. See Marx 1986a. Whereas Marx speaks of human power as an end in itself.╇ There are striking similarities between Marx’s discussion of activities that are ends-in-themselves and Aristotle’s discussion of the self-sufficient end in his Ethics and Politics. but more recently rendered as ‘being-at-work’) as an end in itself: ‘[A]mong some ways of being-at-work. 189. In contrast. value. 34. from separation. as Marx was fully aware. on the other hand.91 New needs are generated through a ‘universal exchange’ of humanity’s creative capacities and serve no purpose other than to augment those capacities.92 However. 89. p.90 Capitalism. is one in which the creation and development of human needs is a self-sufficient end. for it nourishes itself. Aristotle speaks of energeia (sometimes translated as energy or power. this is not commensurate with the ‘bad infinite’ of value-production. and thus a relationship that is not the disappearance of distance. It is like goodness – the Desired does not fulfil it. p. constantly creates new needs as the forces of production expand. It is a desire that can not be satisfiedâ•›. 91. In capitalism. as Marx notes several times in 88. it is clear that one ought to place happiness as one of those that are chosen for their own sake and not among those that are for the sake of something else. It is a generosity nourished by the Desired.╇ Marx 1975r. one might say. human powers exist to service capital. however. 92. or – to circumscribe more closely the essence of generosity and goodness – a relationship whose positivity comes from remoteness.╇ It is possible to discern a parallel between Marx’s understanding of need and Emmanuel Levinas’s discussion of metaphysical desire: ‘The metaphysical desire does not rest upon any prior kinship. p. The generation of such needs is potentially endless. self-expanding value. and as ‘self-reproducing exchange value’. since happiness stands in need of nothing but is self-sufficient’. in which new needs are generated for the sake of endlessly augmenting an abstraction.â•›The metaphysical desire has an other intention. 190 [1176b3–7]. since that suggests that capital is a transhistorical phenomenon that characterises all modes of production. A new society. where I deal with Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme.’ See Levinas 1969. some are necessary and are chosen for their own sake. It should be noted that Marx is not satisfied with Smith and Ricardo’s definition of capital as congealed or accumulated labour.â•›.╇ Marx defines capital as ‘a sum of values employed for the production of values’. needs are limited only by the capacity to envisage them (their realisation is. of course. a different matter). See Aristotle 2002.╇ This is especially important when it comes to treating abstract universal labourtime as the yardstick of social development – an issue that will be revisited in more detail in Chapter Four.

it is the movement by means of which exchange value posits itself in this dual determination’.97 He adds. which means ‘unravelling’ but which also carries an implication of a subsequent solution. 306. that value is the subject in capitalism only in a restricted sense. since (as Marx states) ‘it is labour which appears confronting capital as subject’. p. the form of human society’.98 And he writes of how capital promotes the ‘dissolution of the relation to the earth – to land or soil – as a natural condition of production’. See Marx 1975r. No particular form of society represents the ‘end’ of history if it is defined by the satisfaction of human needs and capacities as an end in itself. 13. which is thwarted by capitalist value-production. 99. 237: ‘Value enters as subject’. since needs are interminable. ‘The dissolution of all products and activities into exchange values presupposes both the dissolution of all established personal (historical) relations of dependence in production.96 He writes. Marx writes that an ‘absolute movement of becoming’95 characterises postcapitalist society. 97.╇ The German term is Auflösung. exchange value as subject. a ‘multiplicity of needs’94 is generated for the sake of augmenting a concrete. locality. 95. p. Largely for this reason.╇ Marx 1986a. p.╇ See Marx 1986a. human subject. sensuous force – that of the individuals themselves.╇ Marx 1986a.╇ The formulation recalls Marx’s statement in ‘Private Property and Communism’ that ‘communism as such is not the goal of human development. 451. who step forth as the real.99 Marx’s emphasis on dissolution is no less emphatic when it comes to analysing precapitalist economic formations. positing itself once as commodity and again as money. and the all-round dependence of producers upon one another’. Hence as negation of the fixity of labour and its remunerations’. as the following passage – in which dissolution is mentioned no less than six times – suggests: 93. 196: ‘But the whole of circulation considered in itself consists in the same exchange value. p.93 In contrast.122  •  Chapter Two the Grundrisse. p.╇ Marx 1986a. Marx points to a possible transcendence of value-production by emphasising the dissolution of social formations. once wealth is freed from its value-integument. See also Marx 1986a. 96. p. etc. Value is the absolute subject only in a qualified. ‘Value enters as subject’ insofar as labour is employed as a means to augment value. . Throughout the Grundrisse. There is hardly any word that appears more often in his work than dissolution. 93. Such an ‘absolute movement’ of human capability and creativity. is the basis of the new society. the destruction of relations in which labour was fixed in all respects of income. content. which means that the self-expansion of value is dependent on a force or subject that is other to itself – living labour.╇ Marx 1986a. appears as the absolute subject in capitalism. 421. scope. p. The actual individual now finally emerges as the absolute subject. 94. however. ‘Wage labour appears as the dissolution. It should be noted. 98. Hegelian sense – as an absolute that contains its highest opposition within itself.

The Grundrisse explores a number of social formations that existed for many centuries or even millennia. Marx spells this out in the following passage: 100. If Marx were engaged in historical analysis for the purpose of developing an empirical sociology.â•›. i.â•›.â•›Lastly.╇ Marx 1986a.â•›. the future cannot simply be spelled out on the basis of the individual’s imagination: it must be traced out through an analysis of existing social formations. even when he is analysing relatively stable social formations? I would argue that Marx was not interested in writing a history of social or economic development as much as detailing the process by which a new. p. as a free working petty landowner or tenant (colonus). free society is compelled to come into being. The dissolution of the even more ancient forms of communal property and of real community needs no special mention. Or they can take the form of the dissolution of guild relationsâ•›. .â•›. as a free peasant. he would need to give as much weight to tendencies towards stability and equilibrium as to dissolution and decay. his emphasis on tendencies towards dissolution in his analyses of both the present and the past indicate that he was most of all concerned about the future.e.â•›. Marx is elucidating the factors immanent in the present that point to a future state of affairs. Yet Marx does not do so: his historical analyses are decidedly one-sided.â•›. In tracing out how various formations undergo dissolution. Surely not all of these formations were forever on the verge of collapsing or dissolving. He does so because his real object of analysis is not so much the past as the future. does Marx place so much emphasis on the tendency towards dissolution. insofar as they emphasise the constraints faced by social formations in the face of changing historical circumstances. They can also take the form of the dissolution of these relations of landed property which constitute him as yeoman. then. however. For Marx. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  123 Such historical processes of dissolution can take the form of the dissolution of the dependent relationship which binds the worker to the soil and to the lord but which actually presupposes his ownership of the means of subsistenceâ•›.100 The reason for Marx’s repeated emphasis on dissolution is not immediately self-evident. they can take the form of the dissolution of various client relationshipsâ•›. Why. 426. including the ‘Asiatic’ mode of production. Contrary to the claim that Marx focused mainly on the present and secondarily on the past.

103 Capital spurs the formation of new needs beyond what is required for subsistence. whose antagonism. can never be exploded by a quiet metamorphosis). superfluous from the point of view of mere use value. This distinction is of great importance.124  •  Chapter Two Within bourgeois society. The concept is implicit in The Poverty of Philosophy. pp. general industriousness has been developed as the universal asset of the new generation. . The great historical aspect of capital is the creation of this surplus labour. based as it is upon exchange value. On the other hand. 249–50. the term ‘surplus-value’ does not appear there. on the one hand. in the course of discussing the difference between necessary and surplus-labour. moral considerations. all attempts to explode it would be quixotic. It depends on an assortment of factors. 103. and on the other.102 He argues. as it serves as the basis of Marx’s concept of surplus-value. if we did not find latent in society as it is. For Marx. 102. by strict discipline of capital to which successive generations have been subjected. See Marx 1986a. however. as part of spurring the augmentation of value. however. it has given rise to a number of debates in Marxism and Marx scholarship. needs are developed to the point where surplus labour beyond what is necessary has itself become a general need and arises from the individual needs themselves. the material conditions of production and the corresponding relationships of exchange for a classless society. necessary labour is the amount of labour-time needed to create enough value to ensure the subsistence of the labourer – the time requisite for enabling the worker to re-enter the labour-process on a renewed basis. of mere subsistence.╇ To my knowledge. Along with its accompanying discussion of the machinery and ‘the automaton’. the greater the (relative) 101. etc. relationships of exchange and production are generated which are just so many mines to blow it to pieces. This represents one of the most important sections of the Grundrisse. 96–7. and its historical mission is fulfilled when. when. 250. the first time that Marx explicitly used the term ‘surplusvalue’ was in the Grundrisse.╇ Marx 1986a.101 Marx locates the specific process by which capitalist social relations create the conditions for a supersession of value-production in his discussion of the relation between necessary and surplus labour-time. Surplus-labour refers to the excess amount of time beyond what it takes to produce the workers’ subsistence. The lesser the (relative) amount of value that goes to sustain the worker. pp. p.╇ Marx 1986a. such as the level of a society’s material development. (A multitude of antagonistic forms of the social entity. what is specifically required in a given time or place for workers to replenish their labour-power.

to increase absolute surplus-value..105 Surplus-labour expands so dramatically vis-à-vis necessary labour that capital cannot further reduce necessary labour without undermining the only source of value. 105. One way is by increasing the length of the working-day. It can do this only by setting in motion necessary labour. by failing to give full employment to its own value-creating substance. to produce surplus. of course. Moreover.╇ Ibid. p. 326. p. Another way is through a ‘spatial addition of more simultaneous working days’107 – such as by increasing the size of the labouring populace by 104. however. as to drive it on without limit.104 There are. try to get around this problem.â•›. It is therefore the tendency of capital to produce as much labour as possible. 106. 265.╇ Marx 1986a.â•›It is just as much the tendency of capital to render human labour (relatively) superfluous. capital’s effectiveness at increasing surpluslabour relative to necessary labour. the less can any increase in productivity perceptively diminish necessary labour’. disposable time. living labour itself: It is the law of capital. i. capital forces labour beyond the limits of natural need and thus creates the material elements for the development of the rich individuality’. internal barriers to capital’s effort to surmount all obstacles to its drive to increase the proportion of surplus-labour relative to necessary labour. Yet there are limits to this since a day only contains 24 hours.╇ Marx 1986a. . since ‘The smaller the fractional part already which represents necessary labour. however.â•›. Although this unfolds in an alienating process at the expense of the workers.╇ Marx 1986a. the more expansive human needs become – even as they are subjected to capital’s dominance. Capital’s ‘progressive’ or ‘civilising’ mission is to expand the boundaries of human needs. The decline in the rate of profit. just as it is its tendency to reduce necessary labour to a minimumâ•›. Marx argues. The greater the ratio of surplus-labour relative to necessary labour. as capital renders human labour relatively superfluous. as we have seen. the rate of profit begins to decline. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  125 amount of value that accrues to capital. Capital can. it creates the possibility of richer and more expansive conditions of life: ‘As the ceaseless striving for the general form of wealth.e.106 As Marx sees it. by entering into exchange with the worker. the greater the surplus labour. p. is a manifestation of the increased productivity of labour – that is. even as the magnitude of capital increases. 107. 251. the logic of capital therefore drives capitalism into an ultimately untenable position.

etc. Surplus-labour increases at a faster rate than necessary labourtime. Capital is based on conditions that point beyond itself. There is too much capital relative to living labour. pp. connections. What constitutes the transcendence of capitalist value-production is a state of existence in which the universality of needs is fulfilled and actualised. 465–6.126  •  Chapter Two evicting farmers from the land. at one and the same time. and is not interpreted as a sacred limit.╇ Marx 1986a. ‘Capital posits the production of wealth itself and thus the universal development of the productive forces. takes place in such a way that the working individual alienates himself’. equally and simultaneously posits and does not posit necessary labour. 327. and their actual development from this basis as constant transcendence of their barrier. etc. . it is driven. The universality of the individual not as an imaginary concept. in that this process helps lead to a new sensitivity and understanding of universal needs.110 Marx concludes. capital’s tendency is to ‘reduce to a minimum the many simultaneous working days’.╇ Marx 1986a.╇ Ibid. as the presuppositions of its reproduction’. which is recognised as such. Thus. This serves as ‘The basis [of] the possibility of the universal development of the individuals. knowledge. to reduce the amount of necessary working-time. of general wealth. ‘it is this very development of wealth which makes it possible to transcend these contradictions’. however. but the universality of his real and notional relations’. in positing surplus labour. however. it exists only as necessary labour both exists and does not exist’. 328. and producing a surplus over and above that for. 109.109 This very contradiction creates the conditions for a higher form of social organisation. enjoyments.╇ Marx 1986a. p. not despite but because ‘the elaboration of the productive forces. At the same time.108 As much as capital tries to increase the amount of working-time in order to accrue more value.. posits the continual overthrow of its existing presuppositions. Capitalist value-production therefore finds itself caught in an insuperable contradiction: ‘Capital. 110. 108. it does not by itself constitute it. p. 111. replicating the original problem. The very process that limits and impoverishes the workers by reducing their labouring activity to a mere means of increasing the productive forces turns into its opposite.111 The development of the material productive forces posits the possibility of this transcendence. since ‘an individual can satisfy his own needs only by simultaneously satisfying the needs of. another individual’. and experiences that can realise the wealth of the human personality..

114.╇ Marx 1987a. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  127 It appears. at first sight. to a minimum. that even when tackling such basic economic categories as the relation between necessary and surplus labour-time.’ Although labour remains ‘indispensable’ to capitalist production. just when capital takes over and dominates living labour to an unprecedented degree. the technological application of the natural sciences’. the expenditure of human energy. This will be to the advantage of emancipated labour and is the condition for its emancipation’.113 Since living labour as the source and determinant of value begins to disappear under the impact of technological innovation.114 112. He writes. the possibility arises of another way of producing use-values – one that is not tied to labour as the universal medium of social reproduction. While that is surely his empirical focus. Thus.╇ Ibid. ‘immediate labour and its quantity disappear as the determining principle of production. 113. He argues that the logical trajectory of capitalism is to replace living labour at the point of production with dead labour – machinery and labour-saving technology. of the creation of use-values. p.112 It appears. 86. . Marx focuses much of his theoretical attention on forms of social existence that could follow capitalism. His attention is also focused on how this phenomenon points to a form of social existence that can follow capitalism. The value of each particular commodity decreases with increases in productivity. the existence of value-production itself is placed in jeopardy – even though the mass of capital grows under its impetus. 87. His discussion focuses on the ramifications of an ever-increasing productivity of labour. that Marx is simply discussing the well-known tendency of capitalism to promote technological innovation. he is not only detailing a major component of how capitalism grows and develops. Marx states that capitalism ‘quite unintentionally reduces human labour. The very principle that governs the development of capitalism – the increased productivity of labour through the use of laboursaving devices – points towards a possible supersession of capitalism. Yet by producing greater amounts of commodities in a given unit of time. the conditions that ensure the existence of capital begin to dissolve. therefore. This is further elaborated in Marx’s discussion of machinery and ‘the automaton’ in the concluding part of the ‘Chapter on Capital’. p.╇ Marx 1987a. the total amount of value increases considerably. it ‘becomes a subaltern moment in comparison to scientific work. As a result. since the commodity embodies fewer hours of labour-time. ‘Thus capital works to dissolve itself as the form which dominates production’. As the importance of living labour as the source of value begins to recede.

scientific. production based upon exchange value collapses.╇ Ibid.â•›. This will free up individuals in the new society to pursue talents and capacities that are not restricted to the labour-process. and hence not the reduction of necessary labour time in order to posit surplus labour. made possible by the time thus set free and the means produced for all of them’. but rather man relates himself to that process as its overseer and regulatorâ•›. Instead.â•›.â•›. to which then corresponds the artistic. rather than being its main agent. Marx envisages the following: ‘Free development of individualities. As a result. p. but the appropriation of his own general productive power. Least of all does he think that labour will serve as the cornerstone of a postcapitalist society. just as the non-labour of a few has ceased to be the condition for the development of the general powers of the human mind. labour time ceases and must cease to be its measure. 116.â•›As soon as labour time in its immediate form ceases to be the great source of wealth. nor the time for which he works. and the immediate material production process itself is stripped of its form of indigence and antagonism. the development of the social individual – that appears as the cornerstone of production and wealthâ•›. it is neither the immediate labour performed by man himself.. but in general the reduction of necessary labour of society to a minimum. his comprehension of Nature and domination of it by virtue of his being a social entity – in a word. Capitalism prepares the way for this through its proclivity to reduce the relative importance of living labour.╇ Marx 1987a. and therefore exchange value [must cease to be the measure] of use value. he denies that labour is the ‘cornerstone of production and wealth’ in all forms of society. The surplus labour of the masses has ceased to be the condition for the development of general wealth.â•›. 91.116 These passages clearly highlight Marx’s emphasis on how the specific features of a postcapitalist society emerge from within the womb of capital- 115. Once this transformation has taken place. development of individuals.â•›[the labourer] stands beside the production process. Thus. etc. ‘the development of the social individual’ in its variety of manifestations – including those not limited to labour or material production – would serve as the cornerstone of wealth.128  •  Chapter Two Marx argues that the logical trajectory of this substitution of dead labour for living labour is the following: Labour no longer appears so much as included in the production process. .115 Marx is envisaging a situation in which labour ceases to be the measure or medium of social relations.

for capital is capital only as non-labour. pp. not living but dead labour is the emancipatory alternative. the Grundrisse still stresses the material condition for the solution of conflict and contradictions’.119 In contrast to Marcuse. when the working class was not in motion: ‘Thus. Antonio Negri has argued that the Grundrisse is more deeply-rooted in proletarian subjectivity than any of his other major works.╇ Marx 1986a. Moishe Postone sees the Grundrisse as the most graphic confirmation that. ‘Just as the system of bourgeois society unfolds to us only gradually. so also does its negation of itself. ‘But capital too. as against Capital’s graphic description of the workers’ resistance to the discipline of capital in the process of production itself. 98. through a revolution by social agents resisting the capitalrelation? How is it possible to uproot the capital-relation from within if the role of living labour ‘disappears’ from the process of producing and reproducing it? Marx does not explicitly address these questions in this section of the Grundrisse. if it is not confronted by labour. 120.╇ Marx does nevertheless note. 118. At the same time. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  129 ism itself. p. many objectivist Marxists have argued that the Grundrisse indicates that Marx did not place as much emphasis on class-struggle and subjective forms of resistance as has widely been assumed. As a result of decades of intense proletarian revolt. in part because the Grundrisse was written during the quiescent 1850s. p. See Dunayevskaya 2003. Negri contends. If living labour ‘disappears’ or is severely reduced as capitalism fully develops. his analysis raises some major questions. through the development of the capital-relation? Or will it arise consciously. insofar as a politicised working class opposed to capital has become largely non-existent.120 Negri also makes much of the section on machinery and ‘the automaton’ by arguing that its discussion anticipates the emergence of a post-industrial information-economy. p. in this antithetical relation’.117 It appears that there is somewhat of a discord between objective and subjective factors in his analysis. and other objectivist Marxists. in that he does not directly indicate how subjective forms of resistance can overcome the objective tendency of capitalist accumulation that he outlines in his analysis. Postone. 70.╇ Raya Dunayevskaya has argued that the role of subjective resistance tends to be downplayed in the section on machinery. for Marx. how is a new society actually going to come into being? Will it arise quasiautomatically. as when he writes. Postone is in this regard very much following the lead of Herbert Marcuse. cannot confront capital. which is its immediate result’. . who argued four decades earlier that this section of the Grundrisse anticipates contemporary capitalism. He does so by focusing on the sections of the Grundrisse in which Marx explicitly connects subjective and objective factors. capitalism has been forced to replace 117.118 On these grounds. 119.╇ See Marcuse 1964. 22–48. See Marx 1987a. 218.

thereby making the former so superfluous that value-production has ceased to govern contemporary capitalism. capitalism creates 121. but rather lengthens it.130  •  Chapter Two living labour with labour-saving devices. What Marx’s Grundrisse posits as occurring after capitalism – the transcendence of value-production through the elimination of living labour from the production-process – Negri sees as defining the contemporary informationeconomy. The emancipatory project. it also strives to augment value. it is important to exercise caution when it comes to drawing conclusions from the passages in the Grundrisse concerning the relation of necessary and surplus labour-time and machinery. since capitalism has already sublated its economic reliance on value. capitalism is driven to reduce necessary labour-time to a minimum.121 While capitalism strives to reduce the relative amount of labour-time at the point of production.122 Two contradictory tendencies occur side-by-side. positing labour time as the sole measure and source of wealth. The incorporation of new machinery in the production-process necessitates that the value of the constant capital is reproduced with each new cycle of capitalist production. on the other hand. he argues. While Marx sometimes writes of the ‘disappearance’ of living labour in the production-process. While a full analysis and evaluation of these positions cannot be developed here. Value-production. capital itself is a contradiction-in-progress’. Since fixed capital is devalued as long as it is not employed in production. p. is fundamentally political in character. This is striking proof that.╇ Marx 1987a. on the other hand. the employment of machinery does not reduce work.╇ Marx 1987a. its growth is linked with the tendency to make work perpetual. Marx writes. p. On the one hand. no longer characterises capitalism. in his view. under the dominion of capital. to move towards replacing it with an alternative form of social organisation. 91. 122. . This is reinforced by the fact that the ‘Chapter on Capital’ also emphasises the ways in which the incorporation of labour-saving devices into the production-process can also increase the employment of living labour. Marx refers to this process as follows: ‘By striving to reduce labour time to a minimum. not the labour necessary for the capitalist. rather than by a unilinear replacement of all workers by machines. Capitalism is defined by a complex dynamic. thereby creating an impetus to increase the absolute (if not relative) employment of labour. 204. it appears that he is addressing a tendency more than an accomplished result. while. for Negri. which makes it all the easier. What it reduces is necessary labour.

Two important qualifications need to be kept in mind here. 125. it rather suggests that such a conclusion does not dialectically flow from the contours of the passages under consideration in the Grundrisse. Marx neither infers that valueproduction would be annulled in capitalism.125 Nevertheless.123 The reduction of necessary labour-time does not necessarily lead to an absolute reduction of surplus labour-time. the proletariat. Emphasis is in the original. however. p.╇ Ibid. nor does he suggest that living labour ceases to be a socially-determinative force in it. Second. Marx writes. for the Grundrisse’s discussion of capitalism’s tendency to eliminate value-creating labour from the production-process does not square easily with the claim that the transcendence of value-production is achieved by a subjective force that is internal to it. or than the labourer himself did when he was using the simplest. crudest instruments’. First. even if the conditions for this future state of existence are readied and prepared in the womb of the old one. not even one as great as Marx. postcapitalist society. Marx is delineating a tendency. 94. ‘Hence. . and the Grundrisse was composed in a quiescent political period in Europe in which the working class was not exactly storming the heavens. in which he ties capitalism’s objective movement much more integrally to human forces of resistance than in the Grundrisse. which was an unfinished draft that he chose not to publish. it seems over-hasty to conclude that the Grundrisse suggests that the actual elimination of living labour from the production-process will occur under capitalism. This is not to suggest that Marx did not believe that such an outcome was conceivable or even inevitable. The transcendence of value-production and labour as the medium governing the social metabolism occur in a new. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  131 disposable time by increasing surplus-labour. Marx seriously revised his discussion of the reduction of living labour from the production-process in Capital.124 Marx refers to this contradiction being superseded in a new society. in which necessary labour ‘will be measured by the needs of the social individual’ while ‘the disposable time of all will increase’. No thinker. 124. He makes a crucial comment that reflects this revised view in Volume III of 123.╇ Marx 1987a. there seems to be a problem here in Marx’s argument. Marx notes that this contradiction becomes increasingly evident with the development of the productive forces.╇ Ibid. the most developed machinery now compels the labourer to work for a much longer time than the savage does. Objectivist and subjectivist Marxists appear to have seized on these passages by jumping to conclusions not warranted by the full text. is immune to the circumstances in which his or her ideas are composed. not a finished result.

he takes issue with Fourier’s view that play can replace labour on the 126. However. Finally. since it would put the majority of the population out of action’. Marx also radically revises his discussion of this phenomenon. over time even the relative over-employment of non-productive workers comes under attack by capital. in his discussion of ‘The Absolute General Law of Capitalist Accumulation’. 372. Marx takes a step further into a new society at the end of the Grundrisse in addressing whether play can replace labour after capitalism. See Marx 1976e. He cites Fourier. Yet.╇ In Volume I of Capital. as compared with the Grundrisse. He discusses this reserve-army of labour as both a stabilising factor for capitalism and as a potentially revolutionary force that can bring the system down. since capitalism is continuously driven to reduce the proportion of living labour to dead labour. Instead. was written in a period of considerable working-class revolt and organisation in both Europe and the USA. as seen in the concerted effort to reduce the number as well as the wages and benefits of public-service workers through austerity-measures. it faces ‘characteristic barriers’ that prevent this tendency from becoming fully realised. Whether such measures will prove counter-productive from the vantage-point of capital. He there emphasises the formation of a surplusarmy of labour – the unemployed – as a direct result of the rising organic composition of capital. instead of relations of exchange. unlike the Grundrisse. remains a key question. writing: ‘A development in the productive forces that would reduce the absolute number of workers.127 Capitalism does not meekly surrender to this subjective threat. and actually enable the whole nation to accomplish its entire production in a shorter period of time. absolutely as well as relatively. pp. the number of value-creating productive workers at the point of production.╇ Marx 1981a. capitalism responds to the risk that its actions will ‘produce a revolution’ by increasing the employment of nonproductive workers even as it reduces. This is the situation that West faces at the start of the twenty-first century. by producing the revolution that Marx speaks of in Volume III of Capital. 927–30. p. One of them is the threat of social revolution by unemployed workers who are cast aside as capitalism becomes increasingly productive. would produce a revolution. This helps explain the significant growth of a service-economy and a public sector as capitalism develops. nor does the threat end capitalism’s tendency to replace value-creating labour by machinery at the point of production.126 Marx’s point is that although capital’s tendency is to eliminate living labour. Capital.132  •  Chapter Two Capital (drafted after the Grundrisse. 127. in the mid-1860s). . stating that it was his ‘great merit’ to have emphasised the need to transform conditions of production. as seen in the American Civil War and the formation of the International Workingmen’s Association. in which Marx was a principle leader and activist.

A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy has a more modest scope. Marx conceives of free activity as not only leisure but also as exercise. 1861–3 After finishing the Grundrisse. The ‘third draft’ of Capital. since this is the end. 129. Although it marked an effort to publicly present some of his theoretical development of the late 1850s. Marx was not yet prepared in 1859 to publish the comprehensive study that he had had in mind for some time. A new society is not defined only by its level of material development. For we choose everything so to speak. Aristotle writes. . whose mind is the repository of the accumulated knowledge of society’. p. who seeks to express a totality of manifestations of life. 191 [1176b30–33]. Marx considerably re-worked these chapters for Volume I of Capital. for Marx. 128.130 Far from downplaying the role of ideas or seeing them as merely epiphenomenal. it is far less comprehensive and sweeping than either the Grundrisse or Volume I of Capital. 130. 97. ‘Therefore. Later. which is an arduous exercise – what Hegel called ‘the suffering. Marx published a relatively brief work entitled A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. and the labour of the negative’. for it would be absurd for our end to be play.128 writing of the importance of ‘material creative and self-objectifying science. p. p. whereas Aristotle is referring to an aristocratic few. consists of conscious. The fully-developed person. cannot do without the vast storehouse of accumulated knowledge that human history bequeaths us.╇ Marx 1987a. therefore. the patience. happiness does not consist in play.╇ Hegel 1977. except happiness. Marx considers it imperative for a new society to appropriate the ‘accumulated knowledge’ of previous historical eras. But to be earnest and to labour for the sake of play seems foolish and too childish’. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  133 grounds that freely-associated human relations require great discipline and development. Marx is talking about what all humanbeings are capable of. but also by the level of human intellect and human spirit. purposeful activity.╇ The parallels with Aristotle’s discussion of rational happiness [eudaimonia] in his Ethics are again striking. it will not be analysed here. and to work hard and undergo troubles all through one’s life for the sake of playing. Since many of the points contained in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy are found in either the Grundrisse or Capital. See Aristotle 2002. first published in 1867. 10. Of course. for the sake of something else.129 Truly free activity. with respect to the developed man. containing only two brief chapters – ‘The Commodity’ and ‘Money or Simple Reproduction’.

╇ See Dussel 1988.╇ Recall that this is based on my having considered the 1847 Poverty of Philosophy as the first ‘draft’. was published several decades after Marx’s death as a separate work.134 The 1861–3 draft contains a number of innovative formulations and concepts that are not explicitly found in Marx’s earlier work. These include a detailed analysis of the origin and nature of surplus-value. consisting of over 2. The rest of the manuscript remained unpublished and did not appear even in German until the late 1970s and early 1980s.╇ Karl Kautsky published the first German edition of this work in 1905–10. consisting of a lengthy criticism of the works of other economic theorists. However. He writes.134  •  Chapter Two More germane is the work that comes between A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and Volume I of Capital – the 1861–3 draft of Capital. 133. which he extracted from the manuscript of 1861–3 and published as a separate book. This ‘third’ draft of Capital131 is extremely detailed and comprehensive.132 A section of the draft. however. p. 93. as Volumes II and III of Capital to be a single volume comprising ‘Book Two’ and ‘Book Three’. A somewhat abbreviated version is available in English in Dussel 2001. the contradiction between ‘living labour’ and objectified or ‘dead labour’. and a preliminary discussion of the forms of value as well as the fetishism of commodities. all of which later became critically important to Volumes II and III of Capital. the Grundrisse included. which in part explains its neglect by many commentators on Marx’s works. over-production. he changed his mind in the mid-1860s and decided. Marx’s discussion of this is not as explicit or detailed as in the Grundrisse. and discussion of the difference between ‘marketvalue’ and ‘individual value’. and capitalist crisis. It has never. instead. See Marx 1976e. to relegate this material to a separate ‘Book Four’ of Capital.000 printed pages. Most discussions of the manuscript of 1861–3 consider it as the second draft of Capital. . Theories of Surplus Value should be considered ‘Volume IV’ of Capital. entitled by its editors Theories of Surplus Value. The draft of 1861–3 also represents Marx’s first effort to develop a theory of ‘average prices’. been published in this form. ‘In accordance with the plan of my work socialist and com- 131.╇ The English edition of the 1861–3 draft of Capital takes up four full volumes of the Marx-Engels Collected Works – volumes 30–33. Since he originally planned that what appeared. 132. The 1861–3 draft also touches on the nature of a postcapitalist society in a number of important ways. One reason for this may be that Marx decided not to directly engage in a critical discussion of the shortcomings of other socialist and communist writers in this work on the grounds that it was more important for him to focus on a critique of the major bourgeois economists. 134. after his death.133 The entire draft has only become available in the past several decades and is just beginning to receive the scholarly attention that it deserves. Although Marx originally intended (as of 1863) for what he called the ‘history of theory’ to be included in the first volume of Capital.

136 If the value of all commodities is determined by the quantity of labour-time embodied in them. all commodities must contain a common substance.╇ Marx 1989a. and likewise the nineteenth-century socialists and communists’. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  135 munist writers are entirely excluded from the historical reviewsâ•›. 136.137 Why does Ricardo never investigate the nature of value-creating labour? Why does he conflate ‘labour’ with value-creating labour? What prevented him from grasping the historical specificity of value-creating labour? The answer for Marx. ‘The character of this “labour” is not further explained’. however. Godwin and the like. take the form of this substance? Ricardo and his followers never ask the question because they assume that value is simply a natural property of labour. 137. His main objection is that Ricardo and the post-Ricardians focus exclusively on the quantitative side of value. 325: ‘All commodities can be reduced to labour as their common element. p. p. ‘Ricardo starts out from the determination of the relative values (or exchangeable values) of commodities by “the quantity of labour”.â•›I therefore exclude such eighteenth-century writers as Brissot. See also Marx 1989b. on the amount of labourtime embodied in a product. p.135 At the same time. Commodities have differing exchange-values insofar as they contain different amounts of this substance. 241. rather than on the qualitative side. Labour can serve as the substance of value only if it is alienated labour. on the contrary. Marx’s criticisms of Ricardo and his followers (such as James Mill. See also Marx 1989b. we are here concerned only with that opposition which takes as its starting-point the premises of the economists’. . 373: ‘During the Ricardian period of political economy its antithesis. 389. Simon. since most of the socialist and communist writers subject to critique by Marx in other contexts take Ricardo’s formulation of the determination of value by labour-time as their conceptual point of departure. p. He writes. Marx.╇ Ibid. a subjective activity.â•›. is that Ricardo’s theoretical categories did 135. According to our plan. the latter only in its first beginnings).â•›. What Ricardo does not investigate is the specific form in which labour manifests itself as the common element of commodities’.╇ Marx 1989a. Yet why does living labour. communism (Owen) and socialism (Fourier. John Stuart Mill. I would argue. totaling over six hundred pages. ‘But Ricardo does not examine the form – the peculiar characteristic of labour that creates exchange value or manifests itself in exchange values – the nature of this labour’. Marx’s extended criticism of Ricardo in the draft of 1861–3 helps in important ways to understand his view of the alternative to capitalism. Thomas Hodgskin and others) are quite lengthy.’ However. on the kind of labour that creates value. [come] also [into being]. St. argues that living labour serves as the substance of value only when labour assumes a specific social form – the dual form of concrete versus abstract labour.

subjective agents into mere appendages of the machine. Marx describes this split in terms that recall. A split occurs between the subjectivity of the labourer and the labour that they perform. p. whose existence can only be the living activity. p.140 Marx has entered into the heart of the process of production by showing what occurs within the factory. not the human-being who creates and shapes it. 139. ‘an increase in value means nothing more than an increase in objectified labour. he fails to distinguish between living labour as a generic activity and the peculiar alienated kind of labour that actually creates value. it consumes itself in its subjective form as activity and 138. the latter is future labour. The form-giving activity consumes the object and itself. . 41. The subject-matter of this section does not appear in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.139 He refers to living labour as the ‘subject’ of this process – since no value can be created without it – while showing that living labour becomes subsumed by objectified labour: ‘A further antithesis is this: in contrast to money (or value in general) as objectified labour. when read as a whole. He never conceptually looks into the factory to see what occurs in the ‘storm and stress’ of the actual production-process. As alteration of the object it alters its own shape.╇ This is actually how the 1861–3 manuscript begins. the workers themselves become transformed from living. creative. 36. 140.╇ Marx 1988.╇ Marx 1988. the form of the object.138 Marx here focuses on the central contradiction that is internal to the capitalist process of production – the contradiction between objectified labour and living labour. He wants to understand how products come into being (such as commodities. The product (capital) is the subject of his analysis. the former is past labour. capital and money) and how their value is determined. labour capacity appears as a capacity of the living subject. the currently present activity of the living subject itself’. It largely corresponds to what later becomes Part Two of Volume I of Capital. As a result. his earlier formulations of 1844: The labour goes over from the form of activity to the form of being. but it is only through living labour that objectified labour can be preserved or increased’. nor is it explicitly spelled out in the Grundrisse. Not only are products being produced by workers.136  •  Chapter Two not proceed from the standpoint of the subjectivity of the labourer. ‘The Transformation of Money into Capital’. He writes. shows that Marx took a very different approach. Ricardo is more interested in the products of labour than in the labourer. The manuscript of 1861–3. labour already performed. but also further extend. it forms the object and materializes itself. The section on Ricardo and other economists is preceded by a part on ‘The Production Process of Capital’.

it comprises not only opposites but also the unity of opposites. When the latter is passed over.143 By reducing market-phenomena to the determination of value in an unmediated fashion. 144. Ricardo posits an identity of essence and appearance. p. only appears to contradict the determination of value by labour-time insofar as its value is determined by supply and demand. i.╇ Marx 1989b. instead of by the amount of labour-time that it takes to produce it. Marx argues that this is even truer of John Stuart Mill. what is most needed is to qualitatively eliminate the kind of labour that creates and constitutes value in the first place. 143. is ultimately reducible to the determination of value by labour-time. This becomes of critical importance in his criticism of Ricardo. prior to 1861. This has important ramifications for a Marxian understanding of a postcapitalist society.142 Marx argues that Ricardo’s failure to grasp the nature of the labour that creates value leads to an erroneous theory of money. instead. Marx is suggesting that it is not enough to ameliorate the quantitative inequities associated with the determination of value by labour-time. what becomes visible is the specific kind of labour that creates value.╇ Marx 1988.╇ Marx 1989a.╇ The fact that Marx’s critique of Ricardo and the post-Ricardians was separated out from the rest of the manuscript of 1861–3 and published as Theories of Surplus Value has made it difficult to appreciate the central point he was driving at in his critique of these and other theorists – namely. that a failure to specify the form of value results from keeping one’s conceptual distance from the standpoint of the worker or what happens to the worker inside the factory. like the market-price of a commodity. Marx often credited Ricardo for pinpointing the determination of value by labour-time. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  137 consumes the objective character of the object. p. 278. Ricardo seeks to dispel what he considers this false appearance by arguing that money. p.e. It is therefore a unity without opposites. This can best be discerned when Marx’s critique of Ricardo and post-Ricardians is considered in light of his preceding discussion in ‘The Production Process of Capital’. This is Mill’s logic. it becomes hard to see why living labour serves the substance of value. it abolishes the object’s indifference towards the purpose of the labour. he now emphasises his radical departure from him.141 By directly exploring the contradictions internal to the capitalist labourprocess. by which he . 142. Ricardo argues that money. who ‘transforms the unity of opposites into the direct identity of opposites’. 390. He ‘directly seeks to prove the congruity of the economic categories with one another’. p. 290: ‘The logic is always the same.. See also Marx 1989b. like other market-phenomena. If a relationship includes opposites. 59. Whereas. Marx indicates that positing labour as the source of value fails to get to the critical issue – the kind of labour that creates value.144 141.

p. Ricardo and his school present ’the whole bourgeois system of economy as subject to one fundamental law. Where it does not consist of a monotonous formal application of the same principles to various extraneous matters. Essence and appearance cannot be made to coincide so long as abstract or alienated labour persists. which is hidden and distorted by transactions on the phenomenal level of the market. p.╇ Marx 1989b. Value becomes price through a transformation into opposite.╇ Marx 1989a. unmediated connection between the law of value and marketphenomena. Marx ties this criticism to categories from Hegel’s Logic. 394–5. Since ‘the definite. What he denies is that there is a direct. Exchange-values calculated in money. the price of any given commodity generally diverges from its value.╇ Marx will also contend that this is true of their understanding of the relation of surplus-value and profit as well. 145. can therefore never be directly reduced to the commodity’s ‘real’ value.’ Later. especially because of technological innovation. it is outweighed by its disadvantages: ‘As the work proceeds. general labour’. because of the specific kind of labour that creates value – abstract or indirectly social labour. 147. 394. While the sum of all prices is equal to the sum of all values. 148. as equal. abstract. because abstract labour is measured by a social average that is constantly fluctuating and changing. there is only repetition or amplification’. since ‘Only by its alienation does individual labour manifest itself as its opposite’. particular labour of the private individual must manifest itself as its opposite.149 eliminates the “contradictions”. even though they exist in a state of dialectical unity. pp. which is of course true .147 By failing to grasp this. in Volume I of Capital. or price. They do not grasp that the concrete labour of individuals in capitalist society must be represented in terms of its ‘immediate opposite.148 While this has the advantage of concentrating attention on the determination of value by labour-time. general labour’. Prices must diverge from value.138  •  Chapter Two Marx does not deny that the determination of value by labour-time is an essential economic category of capitalism. or of polemical vindication of these principles. 149. p.145 the exchange-value of the commodity obtains an independent existence in money. 146. 323. Marx’s comments bring to mind Hegel’s criticism of formal abstraction in the Phenomenology of Spirit: ‘The Idea.╇ Marx 1989a. and extract the quintessence out of the divergency and diversity of the various phenomena’. 317. the two are not identical. Marx contends. there is no further development. The reason why Ricardo and the neo-Ricardians force the opposites of price and value146 into an unmediated unity is that they fail to comprehend the historical specificity of value-creating labour.╇ Marx 1989b. necessary.

See Hegel 1977. Henry Charles Carey. 392. instead of relying on the indirect medium of price-formation on the market. that Ricardo’s economic theories made him ‘a father of communism’ in many respects. and Richard Jones. abstract labour denuded of its particularity. Like Ricardo.150 The manuscript of 1861–3 also contains an extended section on ‘Proletarian Opposition on the Basis of Ricardo’. Marx sees both of these as irrational and contradictory forms. 253–371.â•›. p. He does not dispute the contention of an important American advocate of free trade and critic of Ricardo. Instead of contrasting the transparency of value-production to the opaqueness of market-transactions. George Ramsey. 151. The arbitrary and contingent nature of market-phenomena is itself a reflection of the irrational and indirect nature of value-production. but of a specific quality of labour. he does venture into a critical discussion of the latter. 9. For this reason. in which he discusses such thinkers as Thomas Hodgskin. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  139 Although Marx states that he intends to focus on the classical political economists like Smith. it is impossible to overcome the irrational and crisis-ridden nature of capital: enough on its own account. remains in effect always in its primitive condition. As long as the production-relations of capitalism are presupposed as natural and eternal. the post-Ricardian socialists simply assumed that it was a natural property of labour to serve as the substance of value. pp. Marx contends that they shared with Ricardo a failure to understand that money – or any alternative medium that is adopted as a universal equivalent – is not just the expression of a quantity of labour-time.╇ Marx 1989a. . Ricardo and Mill and not on the radical or socialist thinkers who were influenced by them.â•›.â•›Rather it is a monochromatic formalism which only arrives at the differentiation of its material since this has been already provided and is by now familiar’. such as by replacing money with labour-tokens. such as time-chits or labour-tokens.151 Marx’s analysis indicates that it should come as no surprise that the socialist followers of Ricardo adopted the notion that money could be replaced by another means of measuring the quantity of labour-time. if its development involves nothing more than this sort of repetition of the same formulaâ•›. namely. This is why they held that the ills of capitalism could be remedied by eliminating the ‘anarchy’ of the market. p. 150. Marx does not share their conception of the alternative to capitalism because he does not hold that price-formation on the market is ‘arbitrary’ and contingent whereas value-production is predictable and transparent. They found no fault with Ricardo’s purely quantitative analysis of valueproduction since they also did not ask the question of what specific kind of labour creates value. they thought it is possible to replace money by a direct determination of value by labour-time.╇ See Marx 1991.

Soviet economists admitted that the law of value continued to operate in their putatively ‘socialist’ society. 3 (September 1944). such as legislation preventing free trade and competition. and the time of its return at the end of one of these periods.152 As Marx also puts it. 155. 154. as well as between purchase and sale. ‘Crisis is nothing but the forcible assertion of the unity of phases of the production process which have become independent of each other’. 156. This implies that society. see Dunayevskaya 1944. as if according to a plan. Similar to the socialist neo-Ricardians of the nineteenth century subject to Marx’s critiques. that because of state-planning the disproportionalities inherent in value-production had been overcome. nos.156 That they failed to succeed in actually overcoming such disproportionalities is rather clear. Marx notes. which was translated and published in the American Economic Review. so that each sphere of production receives the quota of social capital required to satisfy the corresponding need. pp. given the history of the Soviet economy. and Rogin 1945. Baran 1944.╇ Ricardo held that economic crises are merely an exogenous hangover of feudal appendages. By 1943. The article originally appeared in the Russian journal Pod Znamenem Marxizma. they thought it was pos152. no. vol. distributes its means of production and productive forces in the degree and measure which is required for the fulfilment of the various social needs. just like a man who believes in a particular religion and sees it as the religion.155 Marx’s statement that Ricardo assumes that the disproportionalities of valueproduction can be smoothed out ‘as if according to a plan’ is striking in light of the experience of the state-controlled ‘planned’ economies in the USSR and elsewhere in the twentieth century. This fiction arises entirely from the inability to grasp the specific form of bourgeois production and this inability in turn arises from the obsession that bourgeois production is production as such.╇ Marx 1989b. p. 501–30. 126. p. 7–8 (1943). 140.140  •  Chapter Two ‘[I]t is quite clear. and these cannot in any way be dismissed by the pitiful proposition that products exchange for product’. They contended. the article now proclaimed that it was an operative principle of the Soviet economy. 158.╇ See the anonymous article ‘Teaching of Economics in the Soviet Union’. and everything outside of it only as false religions. . the prerequisite capital. 34.153 Ricardo himself. p. Lange 1945. however.╇ Marx 1989b. great catastrophes must occur and elements of crisis must have gathered and developed. that between the starting-point. Whereas previously Soviet textbooks had argued that the law of value did not operate under socialism. denies the possibility of crises that are endemic to value-production154 because he posits an identity between production and consumption.╇ Marx 1989b. 153. For the debate touched off by this declaration.

In fact. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  141 sible to eliminate indirect and ‘anarchic’ market-relations while maintaining a system of value-production based on indirectly social labour.â•›. . 317. however. pp. That they neglected to acknowledge the inherently self-contradictory nature of such a position had less to do with their lack of skills in formal logic than their effort to produce an apologia and justification for existing conditions in the USSR. As indicated above. incidentally.â•›. 160.╇ Although the concept is not spelled out in the Grundrisse. 289–90. Marx does refer to the phenomena of social relations appearing in ‘perverted’ form several times in it as well as in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. undertaken from the standpoint of capitalist production. He writes.╇ The Soviet theoreticians claimed that their society had eliminated indirectly social labour. pp.160 Marx argues that in capitalism ‘the social character of labour “manifests itself” in a perverted form – as the “property” of things: that a social relation appears as a relation between things (between products.╇ Marx 1989b. This is particularly evident when he takes issue with those who confuse the abolition of interest-bearing or monetary capital with the elimination of the capitalist mode of production. 159. value in use. 161.158 The manuscript of 1861–3 indicates that Marx’s criticism of Ricardo and the neo-Ricardians sheds illumination on the shortcomings of various ‘alternatives’ to capitalism proposed or implemented during the twentieth century. For more on this. 452–3. I do not share his view that those who consider workers as revolutionary subjects are ‘Ricardian Marxists’ – especially since thinkers in the tradition of ‘Marxist-Humanism’ long ago emphasised the centrality of the dual character of labour while affirming the importance of subjective forces of resistance. although he does not actually employ the term ‘fetish’ or ‘fetishism’ at this stage.159 The 1861–3 draft of Capital also introduces a new concept that is not explicitly developed in the Grundrisse – commodity-fetishism. but merely attacking one of its consequences.╇ I am referring only to Postone’s contention that many twentieth-century Marxists were ‘Ricardian’ insofar as they focused on the magnitude of value rather than on the dual character of labour. p.157 Marx’s discussion lends credence to Postone’s contention that Marx’s critique of capital applies to what he calls ‘traditional’ or ‘Ricardian Marxism’. It is thus clear why superficial criticism – in exactly the same way as it wants [to maintain] commodities and combats money – now turns its wisdom and reforming zeal against interest-bearing capital without touching upon real capitalist production. This polemic against interest-bearing capital.╇ Marx 1989b. commodities)’. See Marx 1987a. since the economy was governed by a central plan. occurs.161 157. as a phase in the development of capital itselfâ•›. Marx goes so far as to view various socialist tendencies as expressing the logic of capital. see Hudis 1995 and Hudis 2004c. 275–6 and pp. a polemic which today parades as ‘socialism’. that claim was controverted by their own admission that value-production continued to operate in it. 158.

a world in which the relation of subject and predicate is inverted through a process in which we become subordinated to the products of our own creation is indeed a mad world. Value. Marx notes. is homogeneous and thing-like. 163.╇ Marx 1989b. . 164. Marx is not arguing that fetishism is simply a mental defect that can be stripped away by enlightened critique.165 The fetishism of viewing the commodity as a thing-in-itself. the relationship of men to their reciprocal productive activity’. It therefore appears that what establishes the exchangeability of a given set of commodities is their thing-like nature – their natural properties. a commodity can only express its value in other commodities. abstract or alienated labour. p. p. p. have value only because they represent human labour. As he puts it. 329. which he considers ‘perverse’. which can also be translated as ‘inverted’ or ‘turned upside down. And it must appear this way so long as the peculiar social form of labour that characterises capitalism remains intact. ‘Thus commodities.’ It can also be rendered as ‘mad’. p. not in so far as they are things in themselves. 165. things in general.╇ The German term used by Marx is verkehrt. ‘As a commodity.╇ Marx 1989b. however. an objective expression. Social labour necessarily appears as a property of things because the labour that creates value.163 It appears that value is an attribute of the things-in-themselves. Value-production becomes naturalised in appearing to be a property of things-in-themselves. in the shape of a thing or a commodity.166 is inevitable so long as value-production persists. of a relation between men. instead of a representation of specific social relations. Here we see why so many defenders and even critics of capitalism assume that value-production is ‘natural’. 514. For Marx.142  •  Chapter Two This is not simply an illusory appearance. Although fetishising the products of our own creation is surely alienated. is not a property of objects but ‘only a representation in objects. since general labour time does not exist for it as a commodity’. My emphasis. 334. it cannot be avoided so long as the dis- 162. a social relation.162 Labour-time serves as the determination of value only when it exists in an objectified form. but in so far as they are incarnations of social labour’. 336. See Marx 1991. Value appears as a property of the object. 166.164 Marx is engaging in a kind of phenomenological reduction in showing that what appears to exist independently of us is actually a representation of our human relations. as properties of the material elements of production’.╇ Marx 1989b.╇ Marx expresses this as follows: ‘Thus the participants in capitalist production live in a bewitched world and their own relationships appear to them as properties of things.

╇ Marx 1989b. He writes. Marx returns to and further develops his argument from the Grundrisse that capitalism stimulates the development of new needs and capacities that provide a material foundation for a higher form of social existence. p. English socialists say: ‘We need capital.╇ Marx 1989b. But it is a law of the development of human nature that once the satisfaction of a certain sphere of needs has been assured new needs are set free. Marx is fully breaking from what he considers to be the illusions of both Ricardo and the neo-Ricardian socialists. but not the capitalist. pp. that creation of labour endowed with its own will and personality which stands in opposition to labour. but vice versa. the latter is not the expression of the former. is simply the personification of capital. as capitalist. and therefore also impels the development of human productive capacity 167.’167 Marx does not oppose the capitalists on the grounds that they treat humanbeings as objects – as if they had any choice in the matter. 316–17. 168. an extension of the sphere of social needs and the means for their satisfaction. Therefore when capital pushes labour time beyond the level set for the satisfaction of the worker’s natural needs. Hodgskin regards this as a pure subjective illusion which conceals the deceit and interests of the exploiting classes. In the same way. In arguing that human relations appear as relations between things because that is what they truly are in capitalism. created. 429. it impels a greater division of social labour – the labour of society as a whole – a greater diversity of production. . Capitalists treat human-beings as objects insofar as capital remains the defining principle of social organisation. he writes: ‘Where labour is communal. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  143 torted system of value-production is maintained. Marx therefore does not propose replacing the capitalists with some other agency that can more rationally allocate resources according to the determination of labour-time. There are several other ways in which the 1861–3 draft speaks to the nature of a postcapitalist society.’168 Marx’s critique of other theorists in the manuscript of 1861–3 thus speaks directly to his view of a postcapitalist society. the relations of men in their social production do not manifest themselves as “values” of “things”. Instead. Marx takes issue with fellow socialists on this: The capitalist. He does not see that the way of looking at things arises from out of the actual relationship itself.

╇ Marx 173. But just as surplus labour time is a condition for free time. as Marx develops his discussion of the contradictions inherent to capital’s generation of new needs and capacities.╇ Marx 172.’172 However. and the fulfilment of which is regarded as a natural necessity or a social duty. 1988. the contrary development also occurs: ‘Once the commodity becomes the general form of the product.╇ Marx 170. p. the higher development of individuality is thus only achieved by a historical process during which individuals are sacrificed’. in the end it breaks through this contradiction and coincides with the development of the individual. for that is time’. 298.174 169. partly for the enjoyment of the product. 1988. 348. the production of each individual.169 Marx is emphasising the contradictory character of capitalism’s development of new needs and capacities – something that is not as explicitly spelled out in the Grundrisse. disposable time. even if exchange value is eliminated. p.173 Hence.╇ Marx 1988. ‘[A]lthough at first the development of the capacities of the human species takes place at the cost of the majority of human individuals and whole human classes. 1988. p. according to one’s inclination.╇ Marx 174.╇ Marx 171. While capital ‘activates’ new ‘dispositions in fresh directions’. this extension of the sphere of needs and the means for their satisfaction is conditioned by the worker’s being chained to the necessary requirements of his life. p. is wealth itself. becomes one-sided. or production takes place on the basis of exchange value and therefore of the exchange of commodities. 199. 1989b. 301. always remains the creative substance of wealth and the measure of the cost of its production. which tended to emphasise capital’s positive contributions.171 People are deprived of a host of ‘pleasures of life’. 1989a. . whereas his needs are many-sided’. workers (as well as others) ‘loses room for intellectual development. first of all. But free time. with the development of capitalism. p. 302. partly for free activity which – unlike labour – is not determined by a compelling extraneous purpose which must be fulfilled.144  •  Chapter Two and thereby the activation of human dispositions in fresh directions.170 Marx is acknowledging that. he looks ahead to what would characterise a postcapitalist society once such contradictions are transcended: Time of labour. p. leading to ‘the vacuity of their lives. he contends. 391.

177. however.175 The length of labour-time dramatically declines in a new society at the same time as its character is qualitatively transformed with the abolition of classdivisions and social domination. is still determined by ‘extraneous’ purposes insofar as it is subject to some degree of natural necessity. even when creating wealth.╇ Marx 1991. a free character.. labour is no longer performed for someone else. being abolished. p. Marx writes. a new kind or form of labour and human activity is needed. it acquires a quite different.╇ Marx 1989b. and. Labour that is engaged in material production and reproduction. furthermore.176 Therefore. according to Marx. it becomes real social labour. However. such labourtime – and indeed labour-time in general – will cease to be the determining principle governing such a society. Marx spells out the nature of such a new society thusly: It is self-evident that if time of labour is reduced to a normal length and. is not governed by labour-time engaged in material production but by free time – the time taken to express the totality of one’s sensuous and intellectual capacities.╇ Ibid. postcapitalist society. ‘Just as one should not think of sudden changes and sharply delineated periods in considering the succession of the different geological formations. 446. in which exchange-value is ‘eliminated’. The Conception of a Postcapitalist Society  •  145 In a new. ‘The capitalist mode of production disappears with the form of alienation which the various aspects of social labour bear to one another and which is represented in capital’. etc. 442. At the same time. Human activity can therefore not be its own end where labour remains the determining principle of social reproduction. 176. the social contradictions between master and men. instead of value. What provides the material condition for this reduction of labour-time to a minimum is the development of capital itself. the amount of time that individuals spend on the production and reproduction of basic necessities will remain an important factor. at the same time. p. so also in the case of the creation of the different economic formations of society’. .177 175. A truly free society. To put an end to this contradictory process. capital’s thirst for self-expansion is inseparable from a drive to appropriate ever-more unpaid hours of living labour. but for myself. which relentlessly increases labour’s productivity as it seeks to augment value. and finally the basis of disposable time – the time of labour of a man who also has disposable time must be of a much higher quality than that of the beast of burden. he concludes.

╇ Marx 1989b. Marx never ceases to stress the radically different way in which time would be treated in the new society: ‘But time is in fact the active existence of the human being. p.178 178. . while the new society emerges from within the womb of the old one. It is not only the measure of human life. It is the space for its development’. 493.146  •  Chapter Two Nevertheless. the former represents a qualitative break and leap from the latter.

At the time Marx was also preparing the French edition of Capital. These editions.╇ Marx 1976e. ‘For [Marx] it is quite enough. especially the French edition. The ‘Postface to the Second [German] Edition’ is dated January 1873. introduced several important changes and additions to the first German edition of 1867. on the other hand – imagine this! – confining myself merely to the critical analysis of the actual facts. Some of Marx’s own words tend to reinforce this perception. treating economics metaphysically. Since its purpose is to discern the ‘law of motion’ of existing society. he cites positively the review by the Russian economist I. p. and. Marx does not deny that his critique of capitalism is intended at least to indicate or intimate its future transcendence.1 At the same time. who wrote. instead of writing recipes (Comtist ones?) for the cook-shops of the future’. His ‘Postface to the Second Edition’ notes that a reviewer of the first edition ‘reproaches me for. Kaufman. it might seem to have little to say about a future society. which appeared in serialised form between 1872–5.Chapter Three The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital Volume I of Capital Volume I of Capital is Marx’s most important work and represents the culmination of over a quartercentury of intense research and philosophical development. 99. It consists of an analysis of capitalist production and only capitalist production.I. if he proves. In this regard. both the necessity of the present order of things and the necessity of 1. on the one hand. at the same time. .

In contrast. One of the most fundamental concepts in Capital. I will be arguing that while the scope of Capital is restricted to an analysis of capitalism. 3. 5. 4. p.╇ Marx 1976e.7 Value does not exist on its own account. Marx writes. See Marx 1983b. is that Marx explicitly distinguishes between exchange-value and value. 6. 128. p. Without a commensurate quality or substance. or form of appearance.3 As we have seen. Marx writes. we must consider the nature of value independently of its form of appearance’. of value.4 This was even true as late as the first edition of Volume I of Capital. the “form of appearance” [Erscheinungsform] of a content distinguishable from it’. p. as a quantitative relation between things. 167. an examination of its most important theoretical concepts shows that Marx’s most important work contains some important material regarding his view of a postcapitalist society. For the present. 101. Value.148  •  Chapter Three another order into which they first must inevitably pass over. the exchange of things is not only a quantitative relation.╇ Marx 1976e.2 Thus. see Kliman 2000. p.╇ For an important discussion of this issue. the exchange of 2. however. With the second German edition of 1872 Marx makes a clear distinction between exchange-value and value. which is a novel theoretical development as compared with his earlier work.5 Marx adds. ‘When we employ the word value with no additional determination. and it is a matter of indifference whether men believe or do not believe. However. Value is therefore never immediately visible: it necessarily first appears as exchange-value. the second German edition of 1872 states. ‘Exchange value cannot be anything other than the mode of expression. whether they are conscious of it or not’. ‘The progress of the investigation will lead us back to exchange-value as the necessary mode of expression.╇ As late as the first (1867) edition of the first volume. published in 1867. Marx’s previous work treated exchange-value and value as more or less interchangeable. . 7.╇ Marx 1976e.6 Why does Marx make this explicit distinction between exchange-value and value. p. we refer always to exchange value [Wenn wir künftig das Wort ‘werth’ ohne weitere Bestimmung brauchen. ‘does not have its description branded on its forehead’. independently of the products in which it is embodied. so handelt es sich immer vom Tauschwerth]’. 127. even though it is implied in the 1867 edition. 19. and what is its significance? The answer lies in the peculiar or specific nature of value-production itself. since there must be a quality common to the things that can enable them to be exchanged for one another. It first appears as a quantitative relationship – one commodity can be exchanged for another because both contain equal quantities or amounts of (socially average) labourtime.╇ Marx 1976e.

151: ‘Aristotle therefore himself tells us what prevented any further analysis: the concept of value. ╇ 9. Only as expressions of the same unit do they have a common denominator. of human labour in the abstract’. p. value. 151. cannot exist. in truth. See also Aristotle 2002. and are therefore commensurable magnitudes’.10 This limitation has objective roots. 166. were able to go beyond the appearance of value-in-exchange to the examination of value itself. nor the greatest classical political economists. and no equality if there were not commensurability’. the Grundrisse. See Marx 1986e. which the house represents from the point of view of the bed. since abstract labour is objectified in products. So overpowering is this appearance that Marx himself does not explicitly delineate exchange-value.11 The essence. p. p.╇ Marx 1976e. as we have seen. and no equality without commensurability’. is abstract or homogenous labour: ‘Equality in the full sense between different kinds of labour can be arrived at only if we abstract from their real inequality. 168. even Marx does not explicitly single out the distinction between exchange-value and value in The Poverty of Philosophy. It flows from the fact that value ‘can only appear in the social relation between commodity and commodity’. Marx contends that neither the greatest philosophers. in the value expression for the bed? Such a thing. 140–1: ‘It is overlooked that the magnitudes of different things only become comparable in quantitative terms when they have been reduced to the same unit. ╇ 8. and no exchange if there was not equality. It is only with Chapter One of Capital that Marx writes. like a unit of measure.e. 11. and must appear. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  149 discrete products is not possible.╇ See Marx 1976e. value first appears (and must appear) as a quantitative relationship between products – as exchange-value. such as Aristotle. equalises things by making them commensurable. This quality. So objective is this conceptual barrier that. . or the 1861–3 draft of Capital. as distinct from value itself. to conflate value with exchange-value.╇ Marx 1976e. if we reduce them to the characteristic they have in common. 139. and therefore with the results of the process of development ready at hand’. p. Marx shows. that of being the expenditure of human labour power. with its specific forms of value. for there would be no community if there were not exchange. But. as exchange-value. Since ‘reflection begins post-festum. 90 [1133b16–19]: ‘So the currency.╇ Marx quotes Aristotle on this: ‘There can be no exchange without equality. p.12 it is virtually inescapable. What is the homogenous element. pp. says Aristotle’. the common substance. 10. 12.╇ Marx 1976e. at least initially. until relatively late in his development of Capital. i. such as Ricardo. appears. See also Marx 1976e.8 Two commodities can enter into a quantitative relation only if they share a common quality.9 Abstract labour – labour expended without regard for the usefulness or usevalue of the product – is the substance of value. p.

but it also corresponds to the historical development of economics. p. p. 14. To my knowledge. After delineating the quantitative determination of value (two different commodities can be exchanged for each other insofar as they contain equal amounts of socially-necessary labour-time). He discovers that the condition for the possibility of magnitudes of labour-time to be exchanged for one another is a common quality or element. or the exchange relation of commodities. 17 [1257b19–25] (emphasis in original). by beginning with the appearance of value in the relation between discrete commodities. That in turn makes it possible to conceptualise value. he probes into the conditions that make this exchange possible. Aristotle explicitly distinguishes between the ‘natural’ form of wealth and its ‘social’ form. By failing to distinguish between exchange-value and value. ‘In fact. 139. aside from the prefaces and postfaces. That common element is abstract or undifferentiated labour. Economic theory develops from 13. and a ‘value’. 152.13 How does Marx finally get to specify explicitly the difference between exchange-value and value. but only when it is in a value-relation or an exchange relation with a second commodity of a different kind. but through their exchangeâ•›. this is the only time that Marx uses the first person in Capital. however. independently of its form of appearance. we started from exchange value. 132: ‘I was the first to point out and examine critically this twofold nature of the labour contained in commodities’. abstract labour. in order to track down the value that lay hidden within it’. which is distinct from its natural form.╇ Marx 1976e. See Aristotle 1998. not in the full sense. the latter which he derides as unnatural.â•›. p.╇ Marx 1976e.150  •  Chapter Three When at the beginning of this chapter. wrong. The form of manifestation is exchange value. . It appears as the twofold thing it really is as soon as its value possesses its own particular form of manifestation.â•›. He writes. Marx’s delineation of the dual character of labour – which he calls his unique contribution to the critique of political economy14 – brings to light the substance of value. this was.╇ Marx 1976e. A commodity is a use value or object of utility. and the commodity never has this form when looked at in isolation. and how does it impact his understanding of the alternative to capitalism? Marx proceeds phenomenologically. p. in Book I of the Politics: ‘Natural wealth acquisition is a part of household management. whereas commerce has to do with the production of goods. 15. we said in the customary manner that a commodity is both a use value and an exchange value. strictly speaking.â•›The wealth that derives from this kind of [unnatural] wealth acquisition is without limit’.15 The movement from exchange-value (appearance) to value (essence) is not only the course by which Marx structures his argument. Aristotle proved unable to grasp or delineate the forms of value.

It is not possible to proceed the other way around. he succeeds in overcoming the historical limits reached by classical-political economy. that is. from the appearance of exchangeability to the identification of the conditions that make such exchangeability possible. without going through a conceptual detour that proceeds from appearance. Since exchange-value is a manifestation of value. the fact that the ‘identical social substance’ that enables one commodity to exchange for another can be grasped only by proceeding from the exchange-relation to that which makes exchange possible carries with it a grave risk: namely. However. The development from classical political economy to Marx’s own critique of political economy is a movement from quantity to quality. Since value can only show itself as a social relation between one commodity and another. as opposed to value and its magnitude arising . in which commodities exchange against one another based on given magnitudes of labour-time they embody. By explicitly distinguishing value from exchange-value. ‘Our analysis has shown that the form of value. by proceeding from value to exchange-value. since it suggests that attempting to ameliorate the deleterious aspect of valueproduction by altering the exchange-relation is fundamentally flawed. That Marx ultimately makes this distinction is of critical importance. because the essence (value) is not immediately accessible. Marx points to this when he writes. whose substance is abstract labour. that consciousness will get stuck in the detour by stopping at the phenomenal manifestation of value without inquiring into the conditions of its possibility. Instead. to Marx’s emphasis on the kind of labour that enables this exchange to occur – abstract. he traverses the pathway initially laid out by classical political economy by beginning with the appearance of value as exchange-value and then proceeding to discover what makes this quantitative relation possible. the expression of the value of a commodity. because value shows itself in the exchange-relation of commodity to commodity. the essential problem of capitalist production can be addressed only by altering the nature of the labour-process itself. So powerful is that appearance that even Marx does not explicitly pose the difference between exchange-value and value itself until quite late in the development of Capital. Marx does not arrive at this result by jumping to the absolute like a shot out of a pistol. It bears repeating that value cannot be conceptualised in an unmediated fashion. arises from the nature of commodity-value. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  151 classical political economy’s emphasis on the quantitative determination of value. it all too readily appears that relations of exchange are responsible for value-production. We must begin with the form of appearance of exchange-value and ‘track down’ the value-relation that is immanent in it. which Hegel famously warned us against. homogenous labour.

Since value must show itself as exchange-value. 18. it appears that uprooting value-production depends upon altering relations of exchange. makes it appear as if altering the exchange-relation is of cardinal importance. p. the fundamental problem of capitalism is not its exchange-relations as much as the specific form assumed by labour – abstract or alienated labour. However.╇ Marx 1976e.╇ Marx 1976e. into socially necessary labour as calculated in exchange value’. 992. He insists. 19. and on the other hand. Marx argues. p. it cannot change its qualitative determination.19 Georg Lukács was one of the first post-Marx Marxists to call attention to its central importance: 16. ‘But it does not occur to the economists that a purely quantitative distinction between the kinds of labour presupposes their qualitative unity or equality.16 This helps to illuminate why many fail to correctly identify the central problem of capitalism – including some of its most vociferous critics. it is only in Capital that he devotes a full section (in the first chapter) to delineating it. 17.╇ Marx 1976e. Only when this is recognised is it possible to focus on the social relation that defines capitalism and that needs to be uprooted. 152. For this reason.╇ Although the first German edition of 1867 discussed commodity-fetishism. ‘It is not sufficient to reduce the commodity to “labour”. it did not contain the section entitled ‘The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret. Yet the peculiar nature of capitalism’s social relations. into concrete labour in the use-values of the commodity. 173. In sum. As Marx will indicate throughout Capital. the substance of value itself. in which the substance of value appears in quantitative proportions in the exchange of products. While Marx refers implicitly to the fetishism of commodities a number of times in his earlier work. is the kind of labour that creates value and serves as its substance. Mystification is inseparable from the very existence of the value-form. labour must be broken down into its twofold form – on the one hand. precisely because of the specific nature of value-production itself. p.17 It is all too easy to hold stubbornly to a vantage-point that never gets to the critical issue. altering relations of exchange in lieu of changing conditions of labour cannot eliminate value-production. While altering the exchange-relation can influence the quantitative determination of value. and therefore their reduction to abstract human labour’. even though value-production is inseparable from relations of exchange.’ . As Marx puts it. he is not satisfied with the classical political economists’ discovery that labour is the source of all value. it lies in the very nature of capitalist value-production that its true nature will be misunderstood.18 Another major conceptual innovation in Capital is its discussion of commodity-fetishism.152  •  Chapter Three from their mode of expression as exchange-value’. Far more important.

The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  153 It has often been claimed – and not without a certain justification – that the famous chapter in Hegel’s Logic treating of Being. ‘Whence. the measure of the expenditure of human labour-power by its duration takes on the form of the magnitude of the value of the products of labour. as qualities inherent in the material incarnations of these formal determinations of categories’. p. 170.╇ Lukács 1968.╇ Marx 1976e. 998. take on the form of a social relation between the products of labour. Non-Being. insofar as it appears to be the property of the thing-like character of objects? Why does the predicate come to dominate the subject. ‘The fetishism peculiar to the capitalist mode of productionâ•›.â•›consists in regarding economic categories. and finally the relationships between the producers.â•›. 23. see Marx 1976f. such as being a commodity or productive labour. then. . This is from the famous planned ‘Chapter Six’ of Capital.20 The basis of commodity-fetishism is that value appears to be an attribute of the physical or thing-like character of products of labour. p. 21. p. So why does value take on a life of its own. entitled ‘Results of the Immediate Process of Production’. p. 1–78. it is the predicate of human activity. pp. it arises from this form itself. as soon as it assumes the form of a commodity?’23 Marx provides the following answer: Clearly. Value is a product of a definite form of human labour. contains within itself the whole of historical materialism and the whole self-knowledge of the proletariat seen as the knowledge of capitalist society. within which the social characteristics of their labours are manifested. It might be claimed with perhaps equal justification that the chapter dealing with the fetish character of the commodity. 24.â•›. 1046. 22. and Becoming contains the whole of his philosophy. 164. The equality of the kinds of human labour takes on a physical form in the equal objectivity of the products of labour as values.╇ Ibid.╇ Marx 1976e. the active agents who create value in the first place? Why is it that ‘Their own movement within society has for them the For an English translation of the original 1867 version of Chapter One of Capital. Marx writes.21 Marx asks why this ‘folly of identifying a specific social relationship of production with the thing-like qualities of certain articles’22 arises. arises the enigmatic character of the product of labour.╇ Marx 1976e. 20.24 Marx is here returning to and deepening a concept that was integral to his work from as early as 1843–4 – the inversion of subject and predicate.

e. the labour that assumes a peculiar social form and is responsible for the ability of the products to exchange against one another. wherein the product is the subject instead of the predicate. The value of the commodity is measured by the magnitude of time that it takes to create it. the relation of producers that create value appears as a property of the thing-like character of the commodities and not of their own labour.╇ Marx 1976e. in fact control them’?25 Marx’s answer is that the mysterious character of the product of labour.28 25. Hence. but rather as material relations between persons and social relations between things’. 28. as exchange-value – even though value itself has nothing to do with the physical properties of these things. and these things far from being under their control. This mystified form of appearance is adequate to its concept. It is a valid and adequate form of consciousness corresponding to the actual conditions of capitalist production. takes on a physical form in being materialised or objectified in a commodity.27 Marx sums it up as follows: ‘This fetishism of the world of commodities arises from the peculiar social character of the labour that produces them’. is rendered invisible by the necessity for value to appear as a relation between things. The product appears as the active agent because its value can only show itself as an exchange-relation between the products. 26. . Hence.╇ Marx 1976e. the equality of all labours. Its value cannot be discerned independently of this quantitative measurement. Marx writes. for it corresponds to the nature of the actual labour-process in capitalism in which living labour. they do not appear as direct social relations between persons in their work.╇ Ibid. Fetishism arises from the necessity for value to assume a form of appearance that is contrary to its essence. arises from the form of the commodity itself – from the fact that value appears in the form of a relation between products of labour that are exchanged for one another. pp. the social relations between their private labours appear as what they are. the subject appears to be the predicate and the predicate appears to be the subject because that is how things really are in capitalist society. 165. pp.154  •  Chapter Three form of a movement made by things. 165–6. is transformed into a thing in the process of production: ‘It is nothing but the definite social relation between men themselves which assumes here. therefore.26 The fetishism of commodities is no mere illusion that can be stripped away by an Enlightenment-style critique. 167–8. p. Abstract labour. ‘To the producers.╇ Marx 1976e. i. the fantastic form of a relation between things’. an activity. for them. In sum. 27. the real subject.

p.â•›. As Dunayevskaya argues. his labour power. as a thing or a commodity that could be bought and sold. 169. In doing so they fell prey to the fetishism that treats value as a property of things. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  155 This fetishism of commodities is so overpowering that even Smith and Ricardo fell victim to it.30 If this is so. not a commodity. Marx also avoids falling victim to the fetishism that ascribes value to the physical character of things. but only his capacity to labour. p. .29 The question that still needs to be answered. for the relations of production belonging to this historically determined mode of social production. they viewed this source. i. the capacity to labour. as Marx writes in Chapter One of Capital.â•›. [Marx] rejected the concept of labour as a commodity. It was no accident that Ricardo used one and the same word for the activity and for the commodity. Marx avoids this problem by distinguishing between labour and labour-power.â•›.╇ Marx 1976e. Despite their important discovery that labour is the source of value. living labour. Marx therefore proceeds to examine value-production from the vantage-point of both precapitalist and postcapitalist social relations.e. vanishes therefore as soon as we come to other forms of production’. however. showed that what the labourer sold was not his labour. how does Marx manage to penetrate through the mystified veil of commodity-fetishism in such a way as to show the inadequacy and transitory nature of existing social relations? After all. nor is it a commodity. ‘The categories of bourgeois economicsâ•›. He was a prisoner of his concept of the human labourer as a thing. is to step outside of capitalism’s confines and examine it from the standpoint of non-capitalist social relations. The commodity is labour-power. is what enabled Marx to make this conceptual distinction that went beyond the framework of classical political economy? If commodity-fetishism is an adequate expression of existing social relations. Living labour is not a thing. are forms of thought which are socially valid. he argues. In doing so he returns to. on the other hand. Marx. 30.╇ Ibid. 108. all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labour on the basis of commodity production.31 The only way to overcome the fetishism that attaches itself to products of labour. 31. and therefore objective. and 29.╇ Dunayevskaya 2000. instead of as the expression of social relations that take on the form of things. commodity production’. how does it become possible to avoid falling prey to the fetishism of commodities? Marx himself provides the answer: ‘The whole mystery of commodities. Labour is an activity. It is an activity. By distinguishing between labour and labour-power.

34 In one of the most explicit and direct discussions of the transcendence of capitalist value-production found in any of his writings. .╇ Ibid. See Mandel 1976. All products are ‘directly objects of utility’35 and do not assume a value-form. the movement coming into being. 17. through its own development.37 One part of the aggregate social product serves to renew or reproduce the means of production. p. he nowhere refers to value or exchange-value in discussing this future non-capitalist society. Third. the economic. the individuals in this freely-associated society directly take part in producing. Marx outlines the following about such a future state of affairs: First. working with the means of production held in common. 33. for a change. Marx spells this out as follows: ‘The total product of our imagined association is a social product’.33 he writes: ‘Let us finally imagine. 171.╇ Marx 1976e. based on force and compulsion. and those delineated by Marx as constituting the operative principle of a non-capitalist society. 36. an association of free men. thus foreshadowing the futureâ•›.â•›. in which he says that Marx aimed to show ‘why and how capitalism created.32 After discussing the precapitalist relations of feudal Europe in which ‘the social relations between individuals in the performance of their labour appear at all events as their own personal relations.36 Yet such societies were not free since they were based on ‘patriarchal’ and oppressive social relations. There is no objectified expression of social labour that exists as a person apart from the individuals themselves. material and social preconditions for society of associated producers’.â•›. 389.â•›for a new state of society’.╇ Marx 1976e. p. distributing. and are not disguised as social relations between things’. p. This point is overlooked by Ernest Mandel in his Introduction to the Ben Fowkes translation of Volume I of Capital. what characterises this postcapitalist society is ‘an association of free men’ – not a mere association as such. 170.156  •  Chapter Three further concretises. and consuming the total social product. The new society. in contrast. 35. 171. 34. Second. and expending their many different forms of labour-power in full self-awareness as one single social labour’.╇ Marx 1986a. p. It ‘remains social’ since it is not individually consumed. his conception in the Grundrisse that ‘the correct grasp of the present’ hinges on ‘the understanding of the past’ which ‘leads to points which indicate the transcendence of the present form of production relations. 37. He notes that precapitalist feudal societies were characterised by ‘directly associated labour’.╇ Ibid.╇ Marx 1976e. p. is one in which social relations are freely constituted. This overlooks the radical difference between precapitalist forms of association. The other part of the aggregate social product 32.

40 He suggests that labour-time plays a double role in this new society. there is a vast difference between actual labour-time and socially-necessary labour-time. This is because of his emphasis on the freely-associated character of such a society.╇ Marx 1976e. Marx is wary of suggesting any mechanism or formula that operates irrespective of what the freely-associated individuals decide to do based upon their specific level of social development. Although he speaks of a ‘parallel’ with commodity-production insofar as ‘the share of each individual producer in the means of subsistence is determined by his labour time’. He continues. 40.39 Marx seems reticent about going into too many details about this new society. Under capitalism. . actual 38. labour time also serves as the measure of the part taken by each individual in the common labour. 41. ‘We shall assume. First. Marx then writes. Since this passage has been subject to a wide variety of interpretations. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  157 ‘is consumed by members of the association as means of subsistence’. it is important to pay close attention to Marx’s specific wording. It is decided by the conscious deliberation of the free association itself.42 The specific share of each individual in social consumption is determined by the actual amount of labour-time that they perform in the community. that the share of each individual producer in the means of subsistence is determined by his labour time’. The specific manner in which the total social product is divided between individual consumption and means of production depends on a number of variables that cannot be anticipated in advance. and of his share in the part of the total product destined for social consumption’. 42. ‘On the other hand.╇ Ibid. 39. As noted earlier.╇ Ibid. 172. since it ‘will vary with the particular kind of social organization of production and the corresponding level of social development attained by the producers’. it functions as part of ‘a definite social plan [that] maintains the correct proportion between the different functions of labour and the various needs of the associations’. Marx does not go into any details of how this would be arranged. but only for the sake of a parallel with the production of commodities. Marx is not suggesting that the new society is governed by sociallynecessary labour-time.╇ Ibid.38 How is this division of the aggregate product to occur? No mechanism independent of the free association of the producers decides this for them.41 Labour-time is divided up or proportioned in accordance with the need to replenish the means of production as well as meet the consumption needs of individuals.╇ Ibid. p.

and for good reason: he holds that the new society’s social relations are ‘transparent in their 43. Marx never mentions value or exchange-value in discussing the new society in Chapter One. the social average of necessary labour-time creates value. 44. both towards their labour and the products of their labour. he writes. Georg Lukács fell into this problem in his Ontology of Social Being and The Process of Democratization. this can only mean that the social product is distributed not on the basis of sociallynecessary labour-time but rather on the actual amount of time that the individual engages in material production. . 120–1. In the latter work.╇ Ibid. In Lukács’s reading the two become conflated. the law of value is not dependent upon commodity productionâ•›.â•›.â•›according to Marx these classical categories are applicable to any mode of production. in production as well as in distribution’.43 Social relations based on necessary labour-time are anything but transparent since they are established behind the backs of the producers by a social average that operates outside of their control. Such a principle is completely alien to capitalist value-production. If social relations in the new society are ‘transparent in their simplicity’. are here transparent in their simplicity.╇ Lukács 1991. pp.â•›. instead. The distinction between actual labour-time and socially-necessary labourtime is of cardinal importance. That he does not envisage the latter operating in a postcapitalist society is indicated by the sentence that concludes his discussion: ‘The social relations of the individual producers. Marx mentions this parallel only to emphasise the role that labour-time would play in the future.44 Lukács misreads Marx’s phrase ‘for the sake of a parallel with the production of commodities’ as suggesting not just a parallel but an identity between commodity-production and forms that prevail in a postcapitalist society. since ‘the share of every producer to the means of production is determined by his labour time’â•›.â•›. even though the latter implies value-production whereas the former implies its transcendence. But what does he mean by labour-time? The actual labour-time that operates after capitalism is far from identical with the sociallyaverage necessary labour-time that operates in capitalism. labour exploitation can exist under socialism if labour time is expropriated from the labourer.â•›.158  •  Chapter Three labour-time does not create value. since conflating the two leads to the erroneous conclusion that Marx posits value-production as continuing to operate in a postcapitalist society. for example. For Marx. This is part of what he meant by commodity-fetishism.â•›For Marx.

abolishing money itself.e. Like Ricardo himself. the answer lies in the distinction between actual labour-time and socially-necessary labour-time.╇ Marx 1976e. Lukács does not mention Marx’s discussion of the ‘transparent’ nature of social relations in the future. abstract. One might as well abolish the Pope while leaving Catholicism in existence’. Why. 46. They conflated actual labour-time and socially-necessary labour-time and therefore imagined that a ‘fair exchange’ of labour-time for means of subsistence is possible on the basis of value-production. and man and nature. . vanish only when the practical relations of everyday life between man and man. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  159 simplicity’. labour ceases to be subject to the dictatorship of time as an external. which wants to perpetrate the production of commodities while simultaneously abolishing the “antagonism between money and commodities”. directly social labour’47 because social relations based on value-production are inherently indirect. does Marx suggest in Chapter One of Capital that in a new society ‘the means of subsistence is determined by labour time’ when he has spent many years attacking Proudhon and the socialist neo-Ricardians for their proposals to ‘organise’ exchange along the lines of labour-vouchers and time-chits? Why does he do so when he continues to criticise these utopian experiments in Capital itself?46 Again. p. The socialist neo-Ricardians presumed that actual labour-time is the source of value. he would have recognised that Marx is not referring to socially-necessary labour-time in discussing the operative principles of a postcapitalist society. Marx castigated their position as completely utopian because it is impossible. Once time becomes the space for the individuals’ 45.45 If Lukács had paid greater attention to this issue. generally present themselves to him in a transparent and rational form’. however. and impermeable force governing them irrespective of their will and needs. where Marx takes issue with ‘the craftiness of petty-bourgeois socialism. in any case. ‘private labour cannot be treated as its opposite. i. With the creation of a free association of individuals who consciously plan out the production and distribution of the social product. since money only exists in and through this antagonism. The situation becomes very different. 181. But how exactly is value-production to be eliminated? The question centres on the issue of time. even though Marx repeats it on several occasions. with the abolition of valueproduction. See Marx 1976e. he shows.╇ See Marx 1976e. p.╇ See especially Chapter Two. however. to establish social equality on the basis of inequitable social relations in which the very activity of the labourer is treated as a thing. As Marx reiterates in Chapter Three of Capital. they focused on the quantitative determination of value by labour-time without ever inquiring into what kind of labour creates value in the first place. p. 188. 47. 173: ‘The religious reflections of the real world can.

But Owen never made the mistake of presupposing the production of commodities. The certificate of labour is merely evidence of a part taken by the individual in the common labour.╇ See Dunayevskaya 2000.49 What is most striking about Marx’s discussion is the suggestion that it is impossible to penetrate through the mystified veil of commodity-fetishism unless the critique of capitalist value-production is made from the standpoint of its transcendence.â•›. This will be discussed in Chapter Four.160  •  Chapter Three deliberation and development. as is indicated by his Civil War in France (1871) and Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875). Marx addresses this by contrasting the utopian schemes of Proudhon and the socialist neo-Ricardians to what he considers the more practical approach of Robert Owen: Owen presupposes directly socialized labour. below. Once the dictatorship of abstract time over the social agents is abolished in the actual process of production.╇ This will take on even more importance following his completion of Capital. since production-relations have been transformed in such a way as to make such a distribution possible. social relations become ‘transparent’. Labour again becomes directly social. but rather as the sum total of the free and conscious activity of individuals. The fact that the section on commodity-fetishism was finalised only after the experience of the 1871 Paris Commune – the first time in history that a mass revolt attempted an exit from capitalism – suggests the importance of analysing the present from the vantage-point of the future. it becomes possible to distribute the social product on the basis of the actual amount of time that they contribute to society. they represent an important development in exhibiting a willingness on his part to directly discuss the nature of a postcapitalist society. 49. This deepened the meaning of the form of value as both a logical development and as a social phenomenon’. showed in sharp relief that the fetishism of commodities arises from the commodity form itself.50 This may be what Rosa Luxemburg had 48. a form of production diametrically opposed to the production of commodities. while. 101–2: ‘The totality of the reorganization of society by the Communards shed new insight into the perversity of relations under capitalismâ•›. revealed in the Commune. pp.â•›The richness of human traits.â•›. and of his claim to a certain portion of the common product [that] has been set aside for consumption. ‘Society’ no longer appears as a person apart.48 Marx’s comments on the new society in Chapter One of Capital are brief and somewhat cryptic.╇ Marx 1976e. However. by juggling with money. . but on the basis of freedom. pp. 50. since they are no longer governed by an abstract average that operates behind their backs. 188–9. trying to circumvent the necessary conditions of that form of production. at the same time.

the capitalist must find on the market a commodity that produces a value greater than itself.53 At the same time. 268. He concludes. Marx’s discussion of a number of critical theoretical categories in the rest of the volume illuminates his understanding of the alternative to capitalism. The transformation is by no means self-evident. his theory of the rate of profit. I will focus on four such categories: (1) the transformation of money into capital.e. until it becomes production by freely associated men. p. p. socialism. (2) the nature of wagelabour. ‘Capital cannot therefore arise from circulation. its collapse: thus – and this is only another aspect of the same phenomena – the final goal. There is only one commodity that meets this requirement – labour-power. he was enabled to decipher the hieroglyphics of capitalist economy’. Although the creation of value precedes circulation. ‘The secret of Marx’s theory of value. and it is equally impossible for it to arise apart from circulation. (3) the ‘despotic form’ of capital at the point of production. 173.╇ Marx 1976e. his theory of capital. with which Capital ends. ‘The veil is not removed from the countenance of the social life-process. p. It must have its origin both in circulation and not in circulation’. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  161 in mind when she wrote. from the historical viewpoint. a priori.54 Marx wrestles with this contradiction – which may appear to be rather puzzling – throughout the rest of the book. the transformation of money into capital cannot occur without a process of circulation. not its result’.51 As Marx himself puts it at the end of Chapter One. p. To put it differently.╇ Luxemburg 2004. 260. 52.╇ Marx 1976e. . The transformation of money into capital requires the purchase and sale of labour-power. 151.╇ Marx 1976e. Marx holds that since ‘the value of a commodity is expressed in its price before it enters into circulation’ it is ‘therefore a pre-condition of circulation. and (4) the distinction between two kinds of private property in the means of production. money cannot become transformed into capital without the process of circulation. and stands under their conscious and planned control’. that is. 53. And precisely because. Much of the first volume of Capital is concerned with how money becomes transformed into capital. his analysis of money. and consequently of the whole existing economic system is – the transitory nature of the capitalist economy. In order to transform money into capital. i. 54. money 51.52 Although no section of Volume I of Capital takes up the new society as directly as the concluding pages of Chapter One. the process of material production. Marx looked at capitalism from the socialist’s viewpoint.

They need to be transformed into capital. It need not take the form of eliminating the commons by privatising social relations through the formation of a market-economy. It can also take the form of eliminating the commons by statifying social relations through the elimination of a competitive market involving small peasantproprietors.╇ Marx 1976e. surplus-value and capital cannot become the determinative factors of social production and reproduction. The mere existence of a commodity-market does not therefore imply capitalist relations of production. which they sell for a wage in order to survive.162  •  Chapter Three cannot be transformed into capital in the absence of a labour-market. as would be the case with slaves. Marx contends. In the absence of a generalised labour-market. in the double sense that they neither form part of the means of production themselves. as occurred in Europe during the transition from feudalism to capitalism. The labourers have to be compelled to sell their labour-power by being separated from the objective conditions of production – from the land and control over their labour. as would be the case with free peasant proprietors’. as well as elsewhere. etc. By purchasing labour-power the capitalist can compel the labourers to create a value greater than the value of their labour-power or means of subsistence. nor do they own the means of production. The increased value is what Marx calls ‘surplus-value’. the separation of the worker from the objective conditions of production is an essential condition for the existence of a labour-market. although a market for labour-time is an essential condition for the transformation of money into capital. so there are many to purgatory.55 The most important of these circumstances is the creation of a class of ‘free’ wage-labourers – ‘Free workers. money and commodities are no more capital than are the means of production and subsistence. p. But this transformation can itself only take place under particular circumstances’. what allows for the existence of a market in labour-power? The mere act of buying and selling labour-power is not enough. serfs. 56. Money is transformed into capital through the production of surplus-value. .╇ There are many forms that this separation can take.╇ Ibid.56 Hence.57 Marx 55. A market in labour-power can arise only if the workers become dispossessed of the ownership of possession of anything except their labourpower. as occurred in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s and in China in the 1950s and 1960s. 874. However. Just as there are many paths to heaven. ‘In themselves. 57. But the emergence of that labour-market depends in turn upon a transformation of specific production-relations – most of all the separation of the labourer from the objective conditions of production. Capitalist relations of production arise on the basis of a generalised labour-market that enables money to be converted into capital.

He writes. 1976e. 58. 557. The other is ‘the consumption of the labour-power that has been acquired.62 He adds. but the latter makes the former possible. he emphasises the formation of specific (alienated) relations of production that make such a market possible. and for money to be converted into capital. as autonomous powers.61 Marx thus indicates that the market is not the primary object of his critique of capital. 1005. 951. The implication is that ending the separation of the labourers from the objective conditions of production would render superfluous the necessity of a labour-market. 1976e. p. Even when discussing the market in labour-power. 1003. autonomous spheres.╇ Marx 62. Commodities. It is crucial that.e. p. .╇ Ibid. p. in short. ‘The production of commodities leads inexorably to capitalist production. 1002. p.╇ Marx 64. The objective conditions essential to the realization of labour are alienated from the worker and become manifest as fetishes endowed with a will and a soul of their own.╇ Marx 60. i.64 However. The existence of wage-labour is the key to capital-formation. serfdom). 1976e. stripped of all material wealth. or once primitive common ownership has ceased to be the basis of society (India)’. once the worker has ceased to be a part of the conditions of production (as in slavery.╇ Marx 1976e. p.╇ Marx 59. What makes it possible for a market in labour-power to arise.59 One is the realm of circulation – the buying and selling of labour-power in the marketplace.58 The transformation of money into capital therefore occurs in two ‘wholly distinct. personified in their owners. appear as the purchasers of persons. 452. without which the transformation of money into capital cannot occur. is the existence of alienated or abstract labour. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  163 therefore argues. [T]hese means of production and these means of subsistence confront labourpower. ‘The capitalist form presupposes from the outset the free wage labourer who sells his labour power to capital’. p.63 And he notes that the means of production and subsistence ‘become capital only because of the phenomenon of wage labour’. ‘The whole system of capitalist production is based on the worker’s sale of his labour power as a commodity’.╇ Marx 63. it takes a lot more than the existence of money or a commodity-market to generate wage-labour. two entirely separate processes’. 1976e. This carries over into Marx’s detailed analyses of wage-labour. 1976e.60 Both are necessary. 61. the process of production itself’.

the abolition of the labour-market does not hinge upon the abolition of money and the commodity-market. Marx writes that this means. each of which cannot exist without the other. ‘In reality. Price and Profit’ – delivered as he was completing Volume I of Capital – ‘the final emancipation of the working classâ•›. as much as upon the transformation of the process of production.╇ Marx 66. but reproduces it on a constantly extending scale.â•›. As soon as capitalist production stands on its own feet. is this: The capital-relation presupposes a complete separation between the workers and the ownership of the conditions for the realization of their labour. 723. p. 874. the split between the worker and the objective conditions of production would have to be healed. 1985b.╇ Marx 68. 1976e. My emphasis. 1976e.╇ Marx 67. They must be torn from the land.67 This has a number of implications in terms of conceptualising an alternative to capitalism. and most of all. 149. Marx writes: ‘The starting point of the development that gave rise to the wage labourer and to the capitalist was the enslavement of the worker’. But Marx insists that the worker ‘belongs to capital’ even before the worker is offered up for sale on the market. Only then do the labourers become compelled to sell themselves for a wage. It is surely possible to conceive of a society without money and commoditymarkets. 875. And such a society 65. it not only maintains this separation.68 The end of wage-labour in turn suggests that a labour-market would not exist in a new society. which creates the capital-relation can be nothing other than the process which divorces the worker from the ownership of the conditions of his own labour.â•›[is] the ultimate abolition of the wages system’.â•›.66 The critical determinant of both wage-labour and capital. . Marx consistently makes this point throughout his published and unpublished work. but which still leaves this separation unhealed. Marx is suggesting that a postcapitalist society must eliminate wage-labour. the worker belongs to capital before he has sold himself to the capitalist’. More specifically.65 It appears from the purchase and sale of labour-power that the markettransaction between buyer and seller is the defining feature of capitalist social relations. p. p. However.╇ Marx 1976e. therefore.164  •  Chapter Three Wage-labour can only arise if workers have become separated from the objective and subjective conditions of production. The sale of labour-power is merely the consequence of a much more oppressive experience that occurs within the work-process itself. p. As he states in his lectures on ‘Value. from control over their own labouring-activity. The process. from their instruments of production.

‘In fact.╇ Marx 72. ‘the immanent laws of capitalist production manifest themselves in the external movement’72 of individual units of competing capitals. neither the ‘anarchy of the market’ nor even the actions of the capitalists vis-à-vis the workers serve as the essential objects of the Marxian critique of capital. He argues in ‘The Results of the Immediate Process of Production’. he notes. the conditions of work employ the worker’. Marx’s discussion of the despotic form of capitalist production tends to undermine claims that he favoured this approach. . 548. p. ‘If capitalist direction is thus twofold in content. p. the rule of the capitalist over the worker is nothing but the rule of the independent conditions of labour over the worker.╇ Marx 73. owing to the twofold nature of the process of production which has to be directed – on the one hand a social labour process for the creation of a product. 667. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  165 would be one in which wage-labour continues to prevail. the necessity arises for a discrete class of capitalists to chain the workers to an alienated 69.╇ Marx 70. 433. My emphasis. and on the other hand capital’s process of valorization – in form it is purely despotic’. A long line of thinkers in the radical tradition have argued in favour of correcting the inefficiencies and ‘anarchy’ of markets by extending the presumably more ‘rational’ and ordered mechanisms of the production-process into the sphere of distribution. is merely the expression of the separation of the worker from the objective conditions of production. 1976e. ‘Anarchic’ competition is not the cause but the consequence of despotic relations of production. The capitalist. 1976e. conditions that have made themselves independent of him’. 450. He writes. 989. p. what makes such relations of production despotic is the subordination of living labour by ‘dead labour’. What has often stood in the way of this realisation is the assumption that Marx counterposed the ‘anarchy of the market’ to the social ‘organisation’ found in the capitalist process of production. but such a society is far removed from Marx’s concept of socialism. but rather the reverse. p.69 This despotism is contained in the fact that ‘it is not the worker who employs the conditions of his work. 1976e. p. 1976e. For once these conditions become independent from the worker.╇ Marx 1976e.70 It is true that Marx refers to ‘the anarchic system of competition’ that he calls ‘the most outrageous squandering of social means of production’.71 However.73 Viewed from this perspective. He contends that the ‘scientific analysis of competition is possible only if we can grasp the inner nature of capital’. According to Marx. also.╇ Marx 71.

The capitalist functions only as personified capital. pp. For a discussion of how this passage proved of critical importance in developing the theory that ‘Soviet-type’ societies were state-capitalist. The functions fulfilled by the capitalist are no more than the functions of capital – viz.â•›. for Marx. imply the effective abolition of a competitive free market.74 This suggests that even the elimination of the personifications of capital does not suffice to free the worker. In discussing the concentration and centralisation of capital to its ultimate limit. It is the rate of profit that is the driving force . he writes: ‘In any branch of industry centralization would reach its extreme limit if all the individual capitals invested there were fused into a single capital.╇ Marx 1976e.╇ The process becomes reciprocal. the animating fire of production would be totally extinguished. Marx often criticises his fellow socialists for advocating capital without the capitalists.â•›. so long as the breach between the worker and the objective conditions of production remains unhealed. the valorization of value by absorbing living labour – executed consciously and willingly. He argues. with a variety of forms of circulation and distribution. of course. It would die out. is contained in a paragraph added to ‘The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation’ in the French edition of Capital.╇ This is not to suggest that such an extreme form of concentration and centralisation of capital would necessarily be more productive or efficient. capitalism’s law of motion would not be radically altered even if ‘the entire social capital’ became united ‘in the hands of either a single capitalist or a single capitalist corporation’. Such a situation would.166  •  Chapter Three labour-process. Capitalism could survive. Marx writes. In a given society this limit would be reached only when the entire social capital was united in the hands of either a single capitalist or a single capitalist corporation’. in turn. of course. ‘And if capital formation were to fall exclusively into the hands of a few existing big capitals. Volume III of Capital suggests that a radical suppression of competition between individual units of capital would be likely to deprive capitalism of its vivacity. of the product over the producer. But it need not imply the end of capitalism itself. see Dunayevskaya 1992 and 2002. capital as a person. 779. 75.76 This indicates that. 989–90. just as the worker is no more than labour personifiedâ•›.77 74. 77.╇ Marx 1976e. nor conceives of its abolition as the key to creating an alternative to capitalism.75 The fullest indication that Marx neither posits the market as the major object of his critique. p. 76. in 1872–5.â•›Hence the rule of the capitalist over the worker is the rule of things over man. of dead labour over the living. It is at least theoretically possible that capitalist social relations could persist even in the absence of an anarchic or competitive ‘free’ market. On these grounds. Marx is suggesting. for whom the mass of profit outweighs the rate.

The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  167 This does not mean. The mutual repulsion of capitals is already inherent in capital as realised exchange value. 350. . 79. the implication is clear enough: the control of capital by a single state or entity is incompatible with Marx’s conception of ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’. a global transformation. See Marx 1981a. from the destruction of their private property. in capitalist production. and which have become au courant in some of the contemporary literature on globalisation. for all of global capital to be concentrated into a single hand. and capital thus necessarily exists only through exchange for a counter-value. that capitalism could exist if all of global capital were concentrated in the hands of a single state or single capitalist corporation. p. But such a transformation does not consist of concentrating and centralising capital in a single entity. it necessarily repels itself from itself. 368. as Marx earlier stated in The German Ideology. however.╇ Marx 1976e. p. given the nature of value-production. not confronted by alien capitals with which it exchanges – which from our present standpoint nothing confronts it but wage labour or itself – is consequently an impossibility. In discussing the ‘So-Called Primitive Accumulation of Capital’. however. This refers to ‘The private property of the worker in his means of production’.79 This property is based on small-scale land-holding and industry. 78. and hence nothing is produced save what can be produced at a profit’. he points to the destruction of two kinds of private property in the means of production. Marx earlier directly spoke to this in the Grundrisse: Since value constitutes the basis of capital. The passage at the end of Volume I of Capital on concentration and centralisation reaching its ‘extreme limit’ refers to a given national unit of capital. This kind of private property is ruthlessly and violently destroyed by the process that brings modern capitalist private property into being. Socialism or communism. can only arise as part of a world-system. 927.╇ Grundrisse. p. Marx 1986a. A universal capital. This passage tends to undercut theories of ‘ultraimperialism’ which were later formulated by such thinkers as Karl Kautsky. It is impossible.78 Taken together with the statement at the end of Volume I of Capital on the concentration and centralisation of capital. in his discussion of two kinds of ‘private property’ at the end of the first volume of Capital. One is ‘the dissolution of the private property based on the labour of its owner’. Modern capitalism arises most of all from the eviction of the peasant-proprietors from the land. while any effort to achieve this on a global level is completely quixotic. Marx carries out a further discussion of the possibility of a unit of national capital existing without ‘free market’ competition.

╇ The situation is quite different in the non-Western world. Marx tends to see these communal property forms as a possible material condition for enabling developing societies to shorten or even bypass the stage of capitalist industrialisation. for Marx. the point is reached where this negation is itself negated: ‘But capitalist production begets. His analysis of the two kinds of private property at the end of the first volume of Capital shows once again that he is not limiting his horizon to the contrast of private versus collective property. 83. Instead. a free association of producers overcomes the separation between individuals and the conditions of material wealth.80 Such small.81 This second negation does not reestablish the fragmented and isolated parcels of precapitalist property. which is based on the complete separation of the labouring populace from the objective conditions of production. 82. 81. 940. which was ‘the annihilation of that private property which rests on the labour of the individual himself’.╇ Ibid. with the inexorability of it a natural process. constitutes the substance of a new society. Marx refers explicitly to the Hegelian concept of ‘the negation of the negation’ to characterise this process.82 The new society. and relatively fragmented landowning patterns do not befit the higher form of social organisation that will follow capitalism. p.83 Instead. its own negation’. Especially in his later writings. isolated. for Marx. Marx never mentions the state once in this chapter that concludes Volume I of Capital. where communal property predominated. he is focusing on the contrast between property-relations that fragment individuals from their natural and subjective capacities and ones that overcome this separation. This entails something far more emancipatory than the transformation of private property into state-property. The latter.╇ Marx 1976e. But they do indicate that forms of private ownership and possession have existed that are qualitatively different from capitalist private property. he does not advocate returning to the landowning-patterns that characterised precapitalist societies in the West. What emerges is ‘cooperation and the possession in common of the land and the means of production produced by labour itself’.168  •  Chapter Three Although Marx sharply criticises the way in which capitalist private property supplants the private property of the direct producer. p. indeed. if they could link up with socialist transformation in the industrialised West. But as capitalism undergoes a further concentration and centralisation in fewer and fewer hands. 929. 80.╇ Marx 1976e. but it does end the breach between the labourers and the objective conditions of production. The first negation is large-scale capitalist private property that supplants the small-scale property of artisans and peasants. represents a reversal of the basic principle of capitalism. .

such as credit. which for the first time has allowed scholars to critically evaluate Engels’s role in editing the manuscripts for publication.86 Their inter-relation is Marx’s primary object of investigation in the second volume. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  169 Volumes II and III of Capital Volumes II and III of Capital are integral to Marx’s overall theoretical project. Volumes II and III have to be read with a degree of caution. Although Volume II of Capital deals with circulation. Volume II with the process of circulation. . but rather three forms of industrial capital.85 Volume II clearly lacks the polish as well as literary quality of the first volume. even though most of the manuscripts of what became Volumes II and III were written prior to the publication of the first volume in 1867. since that is analysed in the first part of Volume I. since they were edited and published after Marx’s death by Engels (Volume II appeared in 1885. 86. 85. Marx planned for Volume I to deal with the process of production.╇ As noted earlier. Volume III has given rise to far more discussion and debate in the critical literature on Marx. it would be a mistake to assume that it deals with the circulation of commodities. In one outline he gave of his critical of political economy. Volume III appeared nearly a decade later). I must limit myself to those passages that directly speak to the subject-matter of the present work. and commodity-capital.84 He only lived to complete the first volume. 84. interest. The circulation of capital comprises three component parts – money-capital. 109. he also intended that what became published after his death as Theories of Surplus Value should serve as Capital’s concluding volume. Rather. the second volume deals with the circulation of capital.╇ MEGA2 has published Marx’s original manuscripts for Volumes II and III. and Volume III with the process of capitalist production as a whole. These are not three independent classes of capital. speculative capital and the causes of crises. This debate falls outside the scope of this study and is not discussed here. productive capital. It is therefore unlikely that either volume would have appeared in its present form and content had Marx succeeded in completing it. Given the great span of topics covered in these two volumes (most of which are not touched upon in Volume I at all).╇ Marx 1978. rent. p. Capital of necessity takes on these three modes of existence: they are ‘different forms with which capital clothes itself in its different stages’. largely because it deals with topics that touch directly on matters of concern to traditional economists. and its more rarefied subject-matter makes it perhaps one of the least amenable to immediate application on behalf of political or social causes amongst all of his writings. the rate of profit. separate moments of the same aspect of the economy.

it is surprising that Volume II contains any discussion of a postcapitalist society at all.╇ Marx 1978. before the act M-L can become general throughout society. while another class – the capitalists – effectively own them. he is stripping away secondary or tertiary phenomena that get in the way of delineating capitalism’s actual law of motion. Instead. As Marx puts it: Thus the situation that underlines the act of M-C (L/MP) is one of distribution. it refers to how one class – the workers – are torn from the objective conditions of production and become ‘distributed’ as ‘free’ wage-labourers. However. p. p. but rather the distribution of the elements of production themselves. the objective productive capital. He writes. The means of production.90 He employs this method of abstraction in order to present the circuits of capital in the clearest possible terms. Given its relatively rarified subject matter. Marx is not leaving aside these factors in order to create a purely abstract model of capitalist accumulation that has little or no bearing on reality: instead. According to Marx. This does not refer to the distribution of relations of circulation as opposed to those of production. not as a static thing’. we must first of all abstract from all aspects that have nothing to do with the change and constitution of the forms as such’. 546. not distribution in the customary sense of distribution of the means of consumption.╇ Ibid. 185. 88. ‘In order to grasp these forms in their pure state. a close analysis shows that several passages address the issue.89 and (4) there are no crises of realisation. with the objective factors concentrated on one side. (2) no revolutions in value occur in the circulation-process.╇ Marx 1978.╇ Marx 1978. 91. and labour-power isolated from them on the other.170  •  Chapter Three Marx’s aim is to describe how these circuits operate in a chemically-pure capitalist economy.╇ Marx does so because such revolutions do not alter the proportions of the elements of value in terms of its various components so long as they are universally distributed. must thus already face the worker as such.88 (3) there is no foreign trade: ‘We therefore completely abstract from it here. 116. . p. and treat gold as a direct element of the annual [domestic] production’. as capital.91 87. What grounds much of Marx’s discussion of the issue is a concept that is discussed in the opening pages of Volume II – the ‘distribution of the elements of production’. capital can ‘only be grasped as a movement. 89. 90.87 He abstracts from contingent or secondary factors that get in the way of grasping the object of his analysis by assuming: (1) commodities are sold at their value.

but rather a decline in the number of exchanges of capital for capital. who ‘spirited away’ constant capital by arguing that it is ultimately consumed as revenue. which argues that the critical determinant in capital-accumulation is a level of effective demand sufficient to buy up the surplus-product. This part has a largely polemical thrust. and Rodbertus (and more recently. is that if Smith were right that the value of constant capital ultimately dissolves into revenue. One is that of Adam Smith. is not the lack of effective demand: instead.92 Marx counters the under-consumptionist argument as follows: 92. the most egregious aspect of Smith’s error is that it conceals how constant capital is the instrument through which the capitalist gains mastery over the worker. there is also a deeper issue involved in Marx’s critique of Smith than the alienation of the product from the producer. the lack of effective demand is a result of a deeper problem. they ‘first become evident not in the direct reduction of consumer demand. Of course. there would be no reason for workers to fight against the appropriation of their unpaid hours of labour by the capitalists. the domination of dead over living labour dissolves as well. in the reproduction process of capital’.╇ Marx 1978. the demand for individual consumption. since a considerable portion of it is consumed productively. Some of the same considerations explain Marx’s objection to underconsumptionism – the notion that the central contradiction of capitalism is the inability of workers to buy back the surplus-product. Smith completely obscures what Marx considers to be the crux and the distinctiveness of the class-relation of capitalist society. in that Marx aims to show what he considers the erroneous nature of two prevailing tendencies in political economy. as represented by such figures as Sismondi. he contends. Malthus. and most obvious. Marx counters Smith’s view by arguing that the value of constant capital does not dissolve into wages and profits. The first. . If the value of constant capital dissolves into revenue. by Paul Sweezy. There are two reasons for Marx’s criticism of Adam Smith on this issue. I would argue. Ernest Mandel and David Harvey). pp. Marx knows full well that the purchasing power of the workers does not enable them to buy back the surplus-product. 156–7. Thus. For Marx. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  171 The importance of this concept becomes clearer later in the third part of Volume II. one could argue. But the reason for this. ‘The Reproduction and Circulation of the Total Social Capital’. The other is underconsumptionism. Although that is doubtless an important consideration. Although crises often manifest themselves in an inability to sell the surplus-product.

it also misconstrues how to correct them.â•›But if one were to attempt to clothe this tautology with a semblance of profounder justification by saying that the working class receives too small a portion of their own product. If capitalism’s main problem is the lack of effective demand. pp.╇ Marx 1978.╇ Marx distinguishes between two departments of social production. Department I is means of production. b) the value of the labour-power that produces such consumption-goods. ‘The complicated problem of accumulation is thus converted into a diagrammatic progression of surprising simplicity. which is spelled out in the formulas of expanded reproduction. 96. Surplus-value is embodied in both departments. did not at all satisfy critics such as Rosa Luxemburg.â•›. Marx’s assuming-away of realisation crises projects a tendency of unimpeded equilibrium or balanced growth.â•›.╇ For more on this. 95.95 She found the implications of this profoundly disturbing. this not only gets the facts of capitalism wrong. b) the value of means of production laid out in labour-power (or the sum of wages paid out in the sphere of production). As she wrote in Accumulation of Capital.96 93. and the evil would be remedied by giving them a larger share of it. The need to uproot the domination of dead over living labour becomes just as readily obscured as by Smith’s error. 486–7. . or raising their wages.╇ Luxemburg 1968. consisting of: a) the value of means of production consumed in creating means of production (which Marx calls ‘productive consumption’). see Desai 2002.â•›. 118.â•›a certain increase in the constant capital in Department I94 always necessitates a certain increase in the variable capital’. and c) the profits of the capitalists accrued from it.â•›. consisting of: a) the value of means of production transferred to commodities that are individually consumed by workers and capitalists. To Marx. and c) the profits of the industrial capitalist. for some of the same reasons that a number of economists have found it appealing – that it seems to suggest the possibility of infinite capitalist expansion. it follows that resolving it centres on paying workers better wages and benefits. p. or of a paying consumption. Marx’s view. We may continue the above chain of equations ad infinitum so long asâ•›. Department II is means of consumption.172  •  Chapter Three It is a pure tautology to say that crises are caused by the scarcity of solvent consumers. The capitalist system does not know any other modes of consumption than a paying oneâ•›. we should reply that crises are always preceded by a period in which wages rise generally and the working class actually gets a larger share of the annual product intended for consumption.93 Marx objected to under-consumptionism because it tends to locate the central contradiction of capitalism in the market instead of in production. As she saw it. 94.

however. co-ordination is established between capital and consumer-good producing sectors. Whereas Luxemburg criticised Marx’s formulae on the grounds that they suggest balanced growth. She wrote in The Accumulation of Capital: ‘Marx’s diagrams of enlarged reproduction has objective validity – mutatis mutandis – for a planned society’. ‘It follows logically from this idea that if the capitalists were capable of investing “rationally.” i. Three years earlier. which later became so pronounced in Stalinist Russia and China.99 Mandel denies that capitalists can or will rationally plan. 98. who earlier sought to apply Marx’s theory of expanded reproduction to the state-centralised economies of the USSR. p..97 While she held that Marx’s formulas failed to present the actual dynamic of capitalism by ignoring effective demand and realisationcrises. for a ‘planned’ economy in which ‘marketanarchy’ is overcome.╇ Luxemburg 1968. For some Marxists. p. ‘By assuming balance in the reproduction schema. His position owes much to the efforts of such thinkers as Wassiley Leontief. had its origins in the Second International. The problem with these approaches – whether of Luxemburg. It is instructive that this fetishism of the plan. and writing from the very different perspective of disproportionality-theory. from suggesting that it offered a possible model of a postcapitalist society that overcomes the ‘anarchic’ character of capitalism. writing at the start of the twentieth century.╇ Mandel 1962. 366. p. as is true of Marx’s analysis of capitalist production as a whole. he instead calls for rational planning based on the elimination of private property and private capitalists by bringing capital-accumulation under the management of a state-plan. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  173 Luxemburg’s sharp criticism of Marx’s presentation of the formulae of expanded reproduction did not stop her.e. He writes.╇ Trigg (ed. are not applicable to 97. 131. this provided a seductive insight into how governments might impose order on the economic system’. so as to maintain proportions of equilibrium between the two main sectors of production. As one recent study puts it. author of the introduction to the most recent English translation of Capital.) 2006. she wrote. 99. and Mandel/Leontief – is that the formulae of expanded reproduction. . crises could be avoided’. they are valid. 64. Rudolf Hilferding had argued that Marx’s formulae suggest the kind of normative balance between production and consumption that could be achieved through state-intervention in the economy.98 A more recent articulation of Hilferding’s view was expressed by Ernest Mandel. Hilferding embraced them for – so he presumed – offering a model of balanced growth. Hilferding. In Finance Capital. Hilferding argued that ‘order’ could only be established by ‘subordinating the whole of production to conscious control’.

In capitalism.╇ Although Marx’s formulae are specifically directed to the analysis of capitalism.101 Here. it is evident that these products of department I would be no less constantly redistributed among the branches of production in this department as means of production. not distribution in the sense of the sphere of circulation. according to the dictates of value-production. For example. This distribution is of a radically different kind under socialism. which illustrate the dynamic of capital-accumulation. one way or the other.100 Nonetheless. In socialism. And for Marx valueproduction is the differentia specifica of capitalism. he touches on it in a number of other places in Volume II of Capital. in Chapter Sixteen on ‘The Turnover of Variable Capital’. Such a process would not. Marx goes into much greater detail by discussing what prevails ‘If we were to consider a communist society in place of a capitalist one’: ‘Money capital would immediately be done away with. since the producers allocate a given amount of material wealth to replenish means of production and another amount to supply their consumption-needs. which is of secondary and derivative importance. 102. Marx is suggesting that the form of the distribution of the elements of production is of decisive significance for any social order. 500–1.174  •  Chapter Three any society other than capitalism. he deals with constant capital – as all of the factors of production and circulation – in value-terms. cannot therefore be directly grafted onto efforts to envisage a postcapitalist society.╇ Marx 1978. represent a process of accumulation of capital. Although he emphasises the material form of constant capital. according to the needs of reproduction. .╇ It is important to note that Marx is here discussing the distribution of the elements of production. in the middle of an analysis of the exchange between the two departments of social capital in the chapter on ‘Simple Reproduction’.102 To take another example. the value-production upon which they are based is applicable only to capitalism. however. the distribution would be based on the needs of the human agents of reproduction itself. this distribution occurs behind the backs of the producers. and so too the disguises that 100. this does not mean that some kind of simple or expanded reproduction would not exist in a postcapitalist society. At this point. Moreover. value-production does not enter the picture at all. 101. pp. there is little or no textual evidence to suggest that Marx’s aim in presenting the schemata of expanded reproduction was to imply anything about a postcapitalist society. This is because. Marx’s formulae of expanded reproduction. one part directly remaining in the sphere of production from which it entered as a product. another part being shifted to other points of production’. Marx suddenly breaks into a discussion of a new society: ‘If production were social instead of capitalist. while Marx does not address the nature of a postcapitalist society in his formulae of expanded reproduction. as I have been arguing.

would ‘reckon in advance’ how the elements of social wealth are to be produced and distributed. money capital is completely dispensed with. But these tokens are not money. 434. He instead refers to the control of the elements of production and distribution by society. but on the actual amount of labour-time contributed by the individual. p. there is no reason for its transactions to occur through the medium of monetary capital. however.╇ Marx 1978. One receives. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  175 transactions acquire through it. means of production and means of subsistence it can spend. Marx elaborates upon this in even more detail in Chapter Eighteen: With collective production. they are conceptually consistent with his comments on the subject in Volume I of Capital. From his earliest writings of the 1840s to his late 103. in the form of tokens. 104. does he mention the state in his discussion of a postcapitalist society in the first chapter of Volume I of Capital. without dislocation’. society itself. 390. The matter would be simply reduced to the fact that the society must reckon in advance how much labour. It is just as necessary for a socialist society to distribute the elements of production as any other. this distribution does not occur through an autonomous force that is independent of the producers. The distribution of the elements of production is not computed on the basis of an abstract social average of labour-time. Labour-time under socialism. While Marx’s comments in Volume II on postcapitalism are hardly systematic or detailed. Nor.╇ Marx 1978. they do not circulate. since Marx explicitly refers to receiving tokens or vouchers based on the amount of labour-time contributed by the individual to the community. p. Interestingly. none of Marx’s discussions of a postcapitalist society in Volume II of Capital mention the state.104 This passage builds upon and extends his discussion of the new society at the end of the first chapter of Volume I of Capital. through the free association of producers. . as Marx has earlier indicated in Volume I of Capital. simply refers to the amount of physical hours employed in a given enterprise.103 Since value-production ceases in a postcapitalist society. The society distributes labour power and means of production between the various branches of industry. In contrast to capitalist society. as we have seen. a share of the common goods of society that is materially equivalent to the actual amount of time engaged in producing them for the community. There is no reason why the producers should not receive paper tokens permitting them to withdraw an amount corresponding to their labour time from the social consumption fund.

Private capital is increasingly forced out by what Marx calls ‘social capital’. in short. the function is separated from capital ownership. But this process still represents ‘the abolition of capital as private property’. Marx insisted that the aim of capitalist society is not to enrich human needs and capabilities. Marx writes in Chapter Four of Volume II. p. This is the abolition of capital as private property within the confines of the capitalist mode of production itself’. even in the course of discussing these issues. 199. as it enables larger units of capital to buy up and absorb their competitors. He adds. the individual entrepreneur loses private ownership of the enterprise. rent.╇ Marx 1976e. This can be seen especially in Marx’s analysis of credit. Marx makes some important comments about what is to follow a capitalist society. In joint-stock companies. As the firm becomes larger and more complex. Marx is indicating that the capitalist mode of production does not necessarily depend upon capital taking the form of private property.╇ Marx 1981a.105 Volume III of Capital may seem to be even less likely than the second volume to venture into a discussion of a new society.â•›now receives the form of social capital (capital of directly associated producers) in contrast to private capital. This leads to the formation of joint-stock companies (publicly-held corporations based on stock-ownership) and mega-firms. but rather to augment value. interest.106 Here. In the joint-stock company. . 567.176  •  Chapter Three ones. among other things. He shows that credit works to accelerate and amplify the concentration and centralisation of capital. He writes. here it is not socialised either by. This result of capitalist production in its highest development is a necessary point of transition towards the transformation 105. credit. so labour is completely separated from ownership of the means of production and of surplus labour. A new society would need to radically reverse this. 106. and its enterprises appear as social enterprises as opposed to private ones.â•›. and speculative capital and crises. that is.â•›. since it is largely devoted to a detailed analysis of such economic phenomena as profit-rates. Yet. Publicly-held corporations allow for an enormous development of economies of scale and output that small. a collectivity of capitalists. individual units of capital find impossible to match. capitalist private property becomes socialised. Capitalism is an abstract form of domination that has one over-riding goal: to accumulate value for its own sake. ‘Capitalâ•›. the investor-class. p. the workers. ‘For capitalism is already essentially abolished once we assume that it is enjoyment that is the driving principle and not enrichment itself’. On these grounds. or in the interest of. Of course.

p. The workers – as well as the capitalists – cease to have even an indirect ownership-stake in the enterprise. 107. In doing so. It is furthermore a point of transition towards the transformation of all functions formerly bound up with capital ownership in the reproduction process into simple functions of the associated producers. only as one element in connection with other large-scale organic revolutions in the mode of production itself. the joint-stock company represents a possible transitional form towards a new social order. in the socialist sense. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  177 of capital back into the property of the producers.╇ Marx 1981a. though no longer as the private property of individual producers but rather as their property as associated producers. illusions about the miraculous power of the credit and banking system. The joint-stock company can therefore in no way be considered an expression of ‘socialism’. however. it helps prepare the ground for a form of socialisation that can overcome the separation of the labourers from the conditions of production. into social functions. Marx is not suggesting that the formation of the credit-system and jointstock companies on their own impel the formation of a socialist society. there can be no doubt that the credit system will serve as a powerful lever in the course of transition from the capitalist mode of production to the mode of production of associated labour. even though it is firmly within the confines of the capitalist mode of production. On the other hand.108 Marx’s above description of the joint-stock company as a possible transitional form (among others) to a new society.╇ Marx 1981a. arise from complete ignorance about the capitalist mode of production and about the credit system.107 Joint-stock companies further extend the alienation and dispossession of the labourer. . p. The firm becomes completely autonomous from the social forces that comprise it. 108. makes clear that he does not conceive of it as part of a distinct phase between capitalism and socialism. Its leading theoreticians (such as Kautsky and Hilferding) argued that such formations would naturally ‘grow over’ into socialism on their own. 743. At the same time. as one of its forms. 568. in that it undermines the principle of private ownership of the means of production. Marx’s criticism of the illusions about the joint-stock company ‘in the socialist sense’ anticipates what became the standard orthodoxy in much of the Second International after his death. He directly criticises those ‘socialists’ who have ‘illusions’ about the ability of mega-firms to directly lead to a new society: Finally. as directly social property. The consequences of such gradualism set the stage for the Second International’s demise in 1914.

.178  •  Chapter Three The joint-stock company is firmly embedded within the capitalist mode of production – indeed. it can be considered its ‘highest’ expression. Noncapitalist producers also own property.110 Nevertheless. and merely nominal directors. a new kind of parasite in the guise of company promoters. And yet this highest expression of capitalism represents a possible transitional form to a future society. speculators. It is private production unchecked by private ownership. Still less does he contend that the joint-stock company represents a form of socialised production. since he says that that produces a parasitic financial aristocracy. the transitional formation that leads to socialism is nothing other than capitalism. but it is often destroyed by capitalist private property. 570. Precisely because no single individual or unit of capital has complete ownership of the mega-firm.╇ Marx 1981a.╇ Marx 1981a. which presents itself prima facie as a mere point of transition to a new form of production. It gives rise to monopoly in certain spheres and hence provokes state intervention. He makes this explicit by writing that the joint-stock system ‘is an abolition of capitalist private industry on the basis of the capitalist system itself’. He contends. It presents itself as such a contradiction even in appearance. an entire system of swindling and cheating with respect to the promotion of companies.109 Marx’s discussion of the ‘swindling’ and ‘cheating’ that characterise the mega-firm indicates that he is by no means embracing it as a liberatory form. the separation of the enterprise from the control of private capitalists creates a material condition on the basis of which the workers could 109. It reproduces a new financial aristocracy. Nor does he view in a positive light the tendency of these mega-firms to ‘provoke state-intervention’ in the economy. p. p. for Marx. 569. This is the abolition of the capitalist mode of production within the capitalist mode of production itself. and hence a self-abolishing contradiction. This is why Marx holds that private ownership can be eliminated without eliminating private production. the distinguishing mark of capitalist private property is not that private individuals own property. This suggests that. the latter extends rather than mitigates the central problem of capitalism – the separation of the producers from the conditions of production. issues of shares and share dealings. 110. As Marx shows at the end of Volume I of Capital. The distinguishing mark of capitalist private property is that it rests upon the dispossession of the labourer. He explicitly refers to it as ‘private production unchecked by private ownership’.

like Saint-Simon. This debate consumed the German Social-Democratic movement in 1898–9 and afterwards. the first examples of the emergence of a new form. all the defects of the existing system. This is an important consideration. which he sees as the highest expression of capitalist production. p. Marx avers explicitly that workers’ cooperatives represent a new form of production. These factories show how. and must reproduce them.╇ See Marx 1981a. a new mode of production develops and is formed naturally out of the old. cooperative factories could not develop. On the one hand. Marx was very interested in workers’ cooperatives and did not downplay their importance.111 Marx writes of workers’ cooperatives. or of the industrialists and bankers against the marshals and law-mongers of the Napoleonic era. including when undertaken by such utopian socialists as Fourier and Owen. they use the means of production to valorize their own labour. even if at first only in the form that the workers in association become their own capitalist. The cooperative factories run by workers themselves are. that is. The fact that the latter does away with private ownership does not change that one iota.113 111. since it was already misunderstood by many socialists of the time (as well as afterwards) who held that the credit-system would enable capitalism to naturally evolve directly into socialism.112 There is much to be said of this passage. 113. But the opposition between capital and labour is abolished here.. 571. who held such an evolutionary position based upon stressing the growing importance of large-scale credit and centralisation of capital. How different from the contemporary writings of Owen!’ 112. He does not say that of the joint-stock company.e. at a certain stage of development of the material forces of production.╇ This was one of the central issues in the dispute between Rosa Luxemburg and Eduard Bernstein. See Luxemburg 2004. 740: ‘All his earlier writings are in fact simply a glorification of modern bourgeois society against feudal society. in their present organization.╇ Marx 1981a. . he was very critical of socialists who disparaged such efforts. and of the social forms of production corresponding to them. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  179 eventually create genuinely socialised relations – once. within the old form. On the other hand. even though they naturally reproduce in all cases. This leads Marx into a direct discussion of what can produce such a transition from the old society to the new one – worker-owned and managed cooperatives. they manage to strip the cooperative content of labour from its despotic form by achieving an ‘organic revolution in the mode of production’. Without the factory system that arises from the capitalist mode of production. p. i. First.

511. For while there is no longer a particular capitalist within the enterprise to tell them what to do. p. Marx does not go on to explain exactly how they valorise their own labour. but he appears to be suggesting that since these cooperatives exist as islands in a capitalist ocean they cannot avoid operating in accordance with the law of value. Workers’ cooperatives that exist in a context in which exchange-value continues to govern the production and circulation of commodities eventually discover that they have less freedom and control than may at first appear. The more social cooperatives continue to operate as islands within a sea of value-production.╇ Needless to say. 116. question. even as they contain social relations that point to its possible transcendence. 115. 229.115 It may seem that workers who take over a productive enterprise and run it as their own cooperative have freed themselves from the capital-relation. how fast to produce. 114. In this sense. they have. As Marx puts it. the less real social power the workers actually have as they find themselves subject to an autonomous force of value-production. this would characterise not only a particular cooperative that is surrounded by a sea of capitalism.180  •  Chapter Three Second. that does not necessarily mean that they have freed themselves from the social power of capital. but also even large-scale networks of cooperatives that failed to be supplemented by a systemic transformation of capitalist production on an international as well as national level. Marx holds that workers’ cooperatives represent a new form of production insofar as they overcome the opposition between capital and labour.117 While the workers who take over the productive enterprise may free themselves from the need to subject themselves to a capitalist. they are limited by the fact that the ‘workers in association become their own capitalist’ insofar as the collectively-owned and managed enterprise remains subject to value-production. Marx repeatedly criticises the socialists of his time for ‘wanting capital without the capitalist’.╇ Marx 1981a. since the manager is paid by the workers instead of representing capital in opposition to them’. in one sense. at least initially and provisionally. and in what form to produce. 512.╇ Marx 1986a. . p. ‘the capitalist vanishes from the production process as someone superfluous’.╇ Marx 1981a. They have certainly eliminated the need for the capitalist. This is because ‘In the case of the cooperative factory. how much to produce. they still remain within capitalism. They still ‘valorise their own labour’. p.114 Third. Whether such cooperatives can inspire such a transformation remains an important. the antithetical character of the supervisory work disappears. 117. and open.116 At the same time. the system of value-production informs or governs their decisions as to what to produce. and. despite the importance of these cooperatives in foreshadowing the future.

╇ Marx 1981a. begins beyond it. he is not suggesting that labour as such literally comes to an end. and in the other. 120. The true realm of freedom. the realm of freedom. simply that in the one case the opposition is abolished in a negative way.120 In a truly free society. begins when humanity no longer has to define itself by labouring-activity. for Marx. bringing it under their collective control instead of being dominated by it as a blind power. it lies by its very nature beyond the sphere of material production proper. the associated producers. Just as the savage must wrestle with nature to satisfy his needs. Marx writes. To be sure. p. ‘Capitalist joint-stock companies as much as cooperative factories should be viewed as transition forms from the capitalist mode of production to the associated one. because his needs do too. pp. Freedom in this sphere. p. This realm of natural necessity expands with his development. He explicitly states that labour exists in all forms of society and under all possible modes of production. The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s Capital  •  181 This does not prevent. in a positive way’. In one of the most explicit discussions of a socialist society anywhere in his writings. the development of human powers as an end in itself. to maintain and reproduce his life. 572. human life-activity is no longer 118. so must civilized man. he speaks of the kind of social relations that will directly characterise it. govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way. however. 119. though it can only flourish with this realm of necessity as its basis. however. worker-owned cooperatives from constituting a transitional form to socialism – any more than the fact that the jointstock company is firmly rooted in capitalism prevents it from constituting a possible transitional form to a new society. for Marx.╇ Marx 1981a. he states: The realm of freedom really begins only when labour determined by necessity and external expediency ends.119 Thus. But this always remains a realm of necessity. is itself the transitional form for a socialist reorganisation of social relations. but the productive forces to satisfy these expand at the same time. can consist only in this. 290. 958–9. that socialized man.118 In Marx’s last discussion of a new society in Volume III of Capital. and he must do so in all forms of society and under all possible modes of production. That is because capitalism.╇ See Marx 1976e. accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy and in conditions most worthy and appropriate of their human nature. .

he insists. Marx will oppose any power – be it the state. At the same time. as full and free individual self-realization. labour. that ‘In Capital Marx more or less completely acquiesces in the continuing – and indeed. And correspondingly his earlier vision of “labour” as integrated species-activity. . It is also what grounds his conception of socialism. p. permanent – superiority of nature over the human species.R. would become freely associated and not subject to the autonomous power of capital that operates behind the backs of individuals. or the market itself – that takes on a life of its own and utilises human powers as a mere means to its fruition and development. Here is the most important determinant in Marx’s concept of the new society: social relations must cease to operate independently of the self-activity of the associated individuals. the amount of time engaged in material production would be drastically reduced in the new society.182  •  Chapter Three defined by labour engaged in material production. It is not defined by external or natural necessity. must become a selfsufficient end – it must cease to serve as a means to some other end. Human power. He will project this concept even more explicitly in his last writings.╇ Marx’s statement renders implausible the claim made by N. See Berki 1983. 121. like all forms of human activity. 134.121 According to Marx. Marx’s opposition to the inversion of subject and predicate constitutes the reason for his opposition to all forms of value-production. thanks to technological innovation and the development of the forces of production. is all but completely overshadowed by a decidedly pessimistic view of labour as eternal toil and drudgery’. which contain his most detailed discussion of the content of a postcapitalist society. Berki. a social plan.

Although he was living in London at the time.╇ Marx composed The Civil War in France as an address of the General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association (also known as the ‘First International’). thanks to his network of correspondents and his role in the International Workingmen’s Association. Although it was restricted to the city of Paris and lasted only six weeks.1 In addition. the populace of Paris put an end to the Second Empire of Louis Napoleon by eliminating the standing army. the Commune marked the first time in Marx’s life that the working class seized hold of a major urban area and attempted to reorganise social relations in a revolutionary direction. stripped the police-force of its political powers. organised the production and distribution of foodstuffs and other goods through deliberative bodies of workers. established the separation of church and state.Chapter Four Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society The impact of the Paris Commune on Marx There is no question that the Paris Commune of 1871 had an enormous impact on Marx. In the matter of a few weeks. Marx was in close contact with events on the ground. he made an important study of the Commune in his pamphlet The Civil War in France. and arranged for municipal officials to be democratically elected and subject to 1. . or First International. Marx was deeply impressed with the liberatory content of the Commune.

328. 8.â•›. a resumption by the people for the people. 486.9 2. organisations.╇ Numerous clubs. of the proletariat organised as the ruling class. 334.7 He adds. and to expand the circumference and the attributes of the state power’. republican. and political parties participated in the Commune. while all previous forms of government had been thoroughly repressive’. therefore. 484. or Imperialist form of State Power.╇ Marx 1986b.╇ Marx and Engels 1976b. this supernaturalist abortion of society. sought to dismantle the machinery of the state through decentralised.. 4. in The Civil War in France he writes. ‘The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest. It compelled the ‘old centralised government’ to ‘give way to the self-government of the producers’. p. It was not a revolution to transfer it from one fraction of the ruling classes to the other. He viewed it as ‘the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economical emancipation of labour’. 5. in contrast. of its own social life. i.╇ Marx 1986b. what absolute monarchy had commenced.e. 504. 3. ‘All revolutions thus only perfected the state machinery instead of throwing off this deadening incubus.4 To get a sense of how far the Commune changed Marx’s perspectives on revolution. a Revolution not against this or that.’8 The Paris Commune. but a Revolution to break down this horrid machinery of class domination itself. and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible’. democratic control of society by the freely-associated populace: This was.5 In contrast.╇ Marx 1986a. p. Marx considered the Commune to be ‘a thoroughly expansive political form. legitimate. the centralization and organization of state power. It placed ‘the whole initiative hitherto exercised by the Stateâ•›.â•›. 9. ‘But the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made State machinery and wield it for its own purposes’. p. to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State. p.â•›into the hands of the Commune’. The most predominant political tendency was the Proudhonists. 332. p. 7. . It was a Revolution against the State itself.184  •  Chapter Four immediate recall.3 For these reasons.2 All of this was achieved without a single party or political tendency monopolising power. all capital from the bourgeoisie. by degrees. constitutional.6 His first draft of the address notes that earlier revolutions were ‘forced to develop.╇ Marx 1986c.╇ Marx 1986c. Marx’s own followers represented a relatively small minority among the Communards. 6. p. recall that in the Communist Manifesto he had written.╇ Ibid.

and therefore of class rule’. Instead.13 The Paris Commune is therefore not a new form of the state.10 Instead.╇ Marx 1986c. society’.â•›entoils (inmeshes) the living civil society like a boa constrictor’.â•›. ‘Such is the Commune – the political form of the social emancipation. 332.╇ Marx 1986c. p.╇ Marx 1986b. p. 16. p. they aimed for ‘the destruction of the State power which claimed to be the embodiment of that unity independent of. Its very form is despotic. p.12 A social revolution aims to reverse this reversal: ‘The Communal Constitution would have restored to the social body all the forces hitherto absorbed by the State parasite feeding upon. In recognising this. p.17 10.╇ Marx 1986b. Marx generalises its experience by contending that it discloses the proper political form that can enable revolutions to break free from the despotism of capital: ‘The Commune was therefore to serve as a lever for uprooting the economical foundations upon which rests the existence of classes.14 It aspires to ‘the reabsorption of the State power by society’. the nation itself.╇ Marx praises the Commune for centralising legislative and executive functions in the hands of its self-governing popular assemblies. 15. and clogging the free movement of. 11.╇ Ibid.╇ Marx 1986c. 333. the state is a disfiguring outgrowth of society. from which it was but a parasitic excrescence’.11 Far from being a neutral instrument.â•›breaks the modern State power’. ‘this new Communeâ•›. more explicitly than ever before. .16 Since the new society consists of freely-associated producers planning and allocating social wealth.â•›. The vision is fundamentally democratic. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  185 All of this marks a distinct departure from the view of the state expressed in the Manifesto.╇ Marx 1986b. the Communards did not aspire to centralise power into the hands of a state of their own. 483. of the liberation of labour from the usurpation of the (slaveholding) monopolies of the means of labour’. p. it must be created by means of such a free association. that the state is not a neutral instrument that could be used to ‘wrest’ power from the oppressors. One of the most outstanding achievements of the Commune was its degree of the decentralisation of power.â•›.15 The Paris Commune was unlike anything that had emerged in previous revolutions. 487. 14. The Paris Commune led Marx to conclude. which takes on a life of its own and operates behind its back. 17.â•›. 12. Society gives birth to this monstrosity. but this is quite different from centralising these branches of government into a single agency of the state. 334. ‘The centralized state machineryâ•›. 13. and superior to. 490.

he took the antimony that Proudhon pointed out much more seriously than Bakunin did. Marx never claimed that Paris was a socialist society under the Commune. ‘Therefore. the transition to a new society. 335.â•›. is 18. see Thomas 2007. p. through long and difficult struggles. As Marx notes in his comments on cooperatives in Volume III of Capital. Yet it managed to institute a series of wide-ranging transformations in social relations that have attracted the imagination of people around the world ever since.╇ Among these were the dramatic changes it began to introduce in genderrelations. a liberatory form that exists within a capitalist context can still represent. centralised or otherwise. through a series of historic processes. instead. What is more. taken together with other factors. ‘The working class did not expect miracles from the Commune. 178.21 Note that Marx does not say that the formation of specific social structures will by themselves produce the liberated individual.â•›. For more on this. he did it not as an authoritarian. The Commune was a cooperative form of administration that was not weighed down by being dominated by one political party or tendency.â•›Marx also speculated that an “association of associations” would replace the capitalist nation-state’.╇ As one recent study puts it. p. 19. which tended to dominate efforts at social transformation in the twentieth century. 334. It rather marked the self-government of the producers on a municipal scale. p. but to set free the elements of the new society with which the old collapsing bourgeois society itself is pregnant. in which he found the vision of “possible communism”â•›.18 Marx now conceives of an association of freely-associated cooperatives as the most effective form for making a transition to a new society.20 They know that in order to work out their own emancipation. See Karatani 2003. 20. Marx himself notes. but it did not yet constitute the transcendence of capital – nor could it in the mere six weeks of its existence.╇ Marx 1986c. Rather. they will have to pass through long struggles. They have no ready-made utopias to introduce par décret du peuple’. 21. . It could only have constituted a transitional form to socialism had it been allowed to survive and spread. when Marx criticized Bakunin.19 The Commune was the political lever or form for the transformation of the despotic relations of capital. transforming circumstances and men. Marx praised the Paris Commune. carried out mainly by Proudhonists. and along with it that higher form to which present society is irresistibly tending by its economical agencies. They have no ideas to realise. so long as a number of historical conditions are present.186  •  Chapter Four This stands at quite a distance from the view of the state as the principal instrument of revolutionary transformation. he says that the transformation of individuals.╇ Marx 1986c.

It was not written. but also those of production. and their harmonious national and international coordination. of 22. as part of an effort to provide a blueprint as to the kind of society that would follow capitalism. not long afterwards. (that economical transformation) that they require not only for a change of distribution. p. Marx was outraged by the bloody suppression of the Commune by the forces of reaction. or rather the delivery (setting free) of the social forms of production in present organised labour (engendered by present industry) of the trammels of slavery. as well as transforming not only the relations of distribution. The German socialist movement comprised two tendencies in the 1860s and 1870s.22 Marx does not hesitate to emphasise how laborious the process of creating a new society is. he contends. One was the General Union of German Workers. 491. the Critique of the Gotha Programme. people must transform themselves through a long and arduous series of revolutionary struggles in order to bring them to fruition. While the seeds of the new society are contained in the old one. Yet. he became even more disappointed at the realisation that even his own followers had failed to learn its lessons. Marx emphasises not only the achievements but also the limitations of the Commune – of which. and explicit discussion of a postcapitalist society. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  187 needed in order to effectively form social institutions that can realise their social potential. except for the International itself. It was the first nationwide socialist organisation of the German proletariat. but international cooperation. detailed. . whose founder was Ferdinand Lassalle. however. the Communards were fully aware: They know that the superseding of the economical conditions of the slavery of labour by the conditions of free and associated labour can only be the progressive work of time. its composition was driven by organisational considerations within the socialist movement. since it depends not only upon national. Nowhere is the depth of Marx’s dissatisfaction expressed more sharply than in his work composed four years after the Commune’s defeat.╇ Marx 1986b. Rather. but a new organization of production. of their present class character. The Critique of the Gotha Programme Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme of 1875 contains his most sustained. and its energetic and charismatic leader helped make it the largest and bestknown socialist organisation in Europe. At several points.

The other tendency of the German workers’ movement were the muchsmaller Eisenachers (named after the city in which they were founded).25 23. 25. ‘The emancipation of labour demands the raising of the means of labour to the common property of society and the collective regulation of the total labour with a fair distribution of the proceeds of labour’.╇ Marx 1989d. which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature. led by August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht.23 He threatened to break off relations with his German followers unless they disavowed the decisions made at the unity-congress. 83. but Marx decided not to go through with his threat and in the end chose not to make his denunciation public. Nature is just as much the source of use valuesâ•›. many of the Eisenachers were well aware of Marx’s longstanding hostility to Lassallean conceptions and practices. in 1864. He counters. among which was Lassalle’s theory of ‘the iron law of wages’. human labour power’. One exception to this can be found in Dunayevskaya 1981 and 2000. but none more so than its brief discussion of the alternative to capitalism. when his correspondence began to be published.╇ Marx particularly castigates the programme’s opening declaration. Many commentators on Marx have sought to minimise these differences.188  •  Chapter Four which it was a part. p. largely occasioned by what Marx considered Lassalle’s unprincipled interest in forging alliances with sections of German officialdom in order to secure organisational legitimacy for his party and social reforms. based on a brief programme named after the site of the conference. which he considered to be a complete capitulation to Lassallean principles. ‘Labour is not the source of all wealth. After a period of collaboration. . Marx was furious when he read the Gotha Programme.╇ Lassalle had died a decade earlier.24 whether on the state or the class-struggle. Point three of the Programme stated.â•›. In 1875. They refused to do so. Labour is instead the source of value. p. Despite Marx’s criticism. which became the largest socialist organisation in European history after Marx’s death. who considered themselves Marx’s followers. the false conflation of wealth and value has been ubiquitous in discussions of Marx’s work for over a century. Lassalle and Marx had a bitter breakup in the 1860s. and formed a united organisation against Marx’s wishes. There were a number of formulations in the Gotha Programme that infuriated Marx. 81.â•›. the two groups entered into unity-negotiations in the city of Gotha. See Marx 1989d. 24. Although the extent of Marx’s differences with Lassalle became public knowledge only decades after his death.â•›as labour. This marked the birth of what later was known as the German Social-Democratic Party. in part because Bismarck had just jailed several leading Eisenachers. ‘Labour is the source of all wealth’.

in contrast 26. since they depend on an assortment of contingent conditions. For this reason.╇ Marx 1989d. 27. since now. Moreover. Wilhelm Bracke. p. In fact. As he puts it in a letter to one of the Eisenachers. additional deductions from the now-‘diminished’ proceeds of labour would be needed to pay for the costs of social administration. None of these factors can be calculated in advance. Within the collective society based on common ownership of the means of production. as he puts it. Instead. the Gotha Programme was not referring to distribution of the elements of production. he directly addresses the form of collective ownership of the means of production in a society that does manage to radically transform production-relations – a matter that was not discussed in the Gotha Programme itself. it focused on the ‘fair’ distribution of the products of labour in a new society.╇ Marx 1989d. But he is deeply concerned at the implications of the Gotha Programme’s focus on distribution to the exclusion of emphasising the need to transform relations of production. and for an insurance-fund against accidents.╇ Marx 1989d. it was referring to the distribution of the social product.28 He is not issuing his critique in order to delineate the nature of distribution in the new society. p. Marx sharply attacks the claims. as a material quality possessed by them. 77. the expansion of production. These would increase ‘considerably in comparison with present-day society and it grows in proportion as the new society develops’. Rather. 84. He writes.26 He denies that workers would receive an ‘undiminished’ share of the total social product. the matter is clearly of secondary interest to him. since a number of deductions would be needed to pay for depreciation of the means of production. schools and health-services.27 Marx thoroughly rejects the claim that workers in a new society would obtain the full equivalent of the ‘value’ of their labour. the producers do not exchange their products. that in a future communist society every worker must receive his ‘undiminished’ Lassallean ‘proceeds of labour’. 28. just as little does the labour employed on the product appear here as the value of these products. the Gotha Programme failed to refer at all to production-relations or their transformation. p. and compensation for those too old or too ill to work. Marx is clearly irritated at having to write this criticism of the Gotha Programme. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  189 Here. 85. . which Marx saw as a wholly secondary and subsidiary matter. ‘it was by no means a pleasure to write such a lengthy screed’.

it is necessary to closely examine his statement that individual labour exists as a direct component part of the sum of social labour in a new society. individual labour no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of the total labour. the terms ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’ – along with ‘free association’. or simply ‘the new society’ – are completely interchangeable. These are not two distinct stages that are respectively termed ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’. individual labour exists indirectly as a part of the sum of total labour. The total sum of labour can be treated as an aggregate. The 29. To see why Marx contends that neither value-production nor the exchange of products characterises the initial phase of socialism or communism. In the capitalist mode of production. This situation prevails so long as actual labour-time is subsumed by socially-necessary labour-time. the disregard of actual labour-time in favour of socially-necessary labour-time is abolished.╇ For more on this. which is thus in every respect.190  •  Chapter Four to capitalist society. . since the only labour that counts is that which corresponds to the average amount of time socially necessary to create a product. Individual labour can exist or count only indirectly ‘as a component part of the total labour’ so long as capitalist relations of production and distribution are maintained. Individual labour that fails to conform to that average is socially useless and expendable. still stamped with the birth-marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges’. which to him were indistinguishable terms: ‘What we are dealing with here is a communist society. but on the contrary. just like the amount of labour performed by an individual can be treated as a discrete unit. on the other hand. p. 85. For Marx.30 This represents the first time in any of his writings that Marx explicitly refers to two ‘phases’ of a new society.29 Again. see Chattopadhyay 2010. his categories of directly versus indirectly social labour are brought to bear upon the issue of a postcapitalist society. not as it has developed on its own foundations. 30. Marx leaves no doubt that his description of such a state of affairs represents a socialist or communist society. It does not directly figure into the aggregate.╇ Ibid.31 The later notion that ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’ represent distinct stages of social development – a staple of Stalinist dogma – was alien to Marx’s thought and only entered the lexicon of ‘Marxism’ after his death. morally. With socialism or communism.╇ Marx 1989d. ‘society of free individuality’. 31. and intellectually. just as it emerges from capitalist society. economically.

as Capital shows. with the abolition of this peculiar social form. The universal exchange of discrete products requires a commensurate quality or substance: ‘There can be no exchange without equality. But the production-relations of a socialist or communist society eliminate abstract labour. With this momentous transformation. and content of their activity on basis of their actual capabilities. products of labour. With the elimination of the dual character of labour. So difficult is it to discern value independent of its manifestations that it appears to be a property of the physicality of things. as noted over two thousand years ago by Aristotle. Therefore. Labour now becomes directly social on a free basis. form. instead of indirectly social. how is the mutual and universal exchangeability of products of labour possible? As we have seen. the ‘labour employed on the products’ therefore no longer appears in the form of ‘the value of these products’. The dominance of time as an abstract standard is shattered through the formation of freely-associated production-relations. the conditions for the possibility of both value and exchange-value cease to exist. if value and exchange-value cease to exist. The replacement of the dictatorship of abstract time with time as the space for human development serves as the basis for a new kind of labour – directly social labour. in which the producers organise the manner. p. . as well as labour-power. value’s form of appearance – exchange-value – likewise ceases to exist. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  191 exertion of concrete acts of labour in producing use-values. Value must take on a form of appearance distinct from itself. can be rendered mutuallyexchangeable only if there is an abstract denominator or principle of equality that makes such exchangeability possible. value-production itself ceases to exist. With the abolition of the conditions of value-production. Yet. The actions and predispositions of individuals are no longer subject to an abstract average that operates regardless of them. the substance of value – abstract labour – drops out of existence. to ‘track down’ the value immanent in it. However. instead of the peculiar social form of labour in capitalism. as exchange-value. as in capitalism.32 This equal quality is value. No longer does a force operate behind the backs of the producers – socially-necessary labour-time – that renders their individual activity useless or unproductive if it fails to meet an abstract standard. and no equality without commensurability’. 90 [1133b16–19]. but it is far more difficult. As a result. With this transformation. and abstract labour is its substance. Exchangevalue is readily visible. becomes the one and only expression of living labour.╇ Aristotle 2002. the split between abstract and concrete labour is healed. performed by freely-associated individuals. but exchange-value can only be the appearance of something if there is something to appear. which involves the abolition of 32.

is not therefore ipso facto evidence of capitalist relations of production. and putting an end to the constant anarchy and periodical . if united cooperative societies are to regulate national production upon a common plan. and with it. ceases to exist. A few years before the Critique of the Gotha Programme. the object of Marx’s critique of capitalism is not the market.or labour-market. it is the relations of production and the distribution of the conditions of production. abstract labour. ‘the producers do not exchange their products’. it does not necessarily follow that the answer is in the affirmative. Second. A commodity-market cannot exist if there is no substance that renders different magnitudes qualitatively equal. eliminates the possibility of a market in which products of labour are mutually and universally exchanged. A society cannot be characterised or dominated by market-transactions or a market of any kind if the conditions for its possibility are not present. It is one thing. This much is clear: a generalised commodity. thus taking it under their own control. in which products of labour are mutually interchangeable. even in the initial phase of a socialist or communist society. cannot exist if the substance of value. value-production comes to an end. however. for a generalised commodity-market to exist. And the condition of possibility for a market is the existence of indirectly social labour – a condition that is annulled in the new society. How is it possible. Does this mean that markets in any possible sense of the word cannot exist in a new society? Marx does not directly address the question. The mere existence of some form of market. markets existed long before capitalism. This indicates that a socialist or communist society. given the logic of his argument. at least in a limited and subsidiary sense. Once the breach between abstract and concrete labour is healed. for products of labour to be mutually-exchangeable in such a society? The answer is that they can not be mutually exchangeable. Marx is responding to what he considers the erroneous theoretical statements in a programme of a political party. He does not intend for his critique to be read as a detailed blueprint that accounts for any and all possible conditions and institutions of a postcapitalist society. Third. This is why Marx writes that. However.192  •  Chapter Four alienated labour. the market itself. as Marx envisages it. then. as Marx often notes. if it is to supersede the capitalist system. and quite another for far-more restricted markets to persist (especially temporarily) in a completely subordinate and subsidiary role in comparison to a society’s governing social relations. the substance of value is annulled. First. Marx wrote in The Civil War in France: If cooperative production is not to remain a sham and a snare. in the Critique of the Gotha Programme.

which is measured in ‘the sum of hours of work’. Marx explicitly states that his discussion thus far is of ‘a communist society. 335. ‘possible’ Communism?33 For cooperative production not to be ‘a sham and a snare’. is wage-labour. As noted earlier. He makes it clear that there is no place for it in the initial phase of a new society by spelling out an alternative form of remuneration. At the same time. p.╇ Marx 1986c. form. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  193 convulsions which are the fatality of capitalist production – what else. And the workers would not have effective control of their cooperative production if an independent pricing mechanism acted in disregard of their collective deliberations by dictating the manner. would it be but Communism. It is impractical to presume that a new society can emerge sui generis. and nature of their labouring activity. The effort extends far beyond the moment of revolution itself. This two-fold concern governs his discussion through the rest of the Critique of the Gotha Programme. And one of the most defining characteristics of capitalism. and the individual receives back from 33. But what does he mean by control? Surely. He is conceiving of a new society in which the products of human activity can no longer take on an autonomous power independent of the producers. Marx’s conception of socialism is fundamentally democratic. but on the contrary. Marx wishes to emphasise that a socialist or communist society represents a qualitative break from the conditions and social forms that define capitalism. Throughout his writings. Marx is referring to effective as well as formal control. it has to be under the control of the workers themselves. This form is as follows: each individual gives to society ‘his individual quantum of labour’. without bearing the birthmarks of the society from which it emerges. not as it has developed on its own foundations. and to be meaningful. for Marx. such a democracy must exist on the economic as well as the political level. The ‘individual labour-time of the individual’ represents the individual’s share in society. and is ‘still stamped with the birth-marks of the old society from whom womb it emerges’. He opposes the existence of a market insofar as its existence implies the existence of such an autonomous force. for Marx. . As Marx repeatedly stresses. it is crucial that the defining characteristics of capitalism be eliminated from the outset. the process of creating a society is a long and labourious one. gentlemen. just as it emerges from capitalist society’. Marx never wavers from his emphasis on the need for the producers to have power and control over the process of forming the social product. a radical break occurs between capitalism and even the most initial phase of socialism or communism. So how would workers be remunerated in the lower phase of a new society? Since.

. He is referring to values in the generic sense of an exchange of equal quantities. My emphasis. since ‘nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals except individual means of consumption’. of equal sums of actual (concrete) labour-time. 36.╇ Marx 1989d.35 Remuneration is based on an ‘equal standard’ – the actual amount of labour-time performed by the freely-associated individuals. such as women’s domestic labour. and pre-school education. where remuneration is based on socially-necessary labour-time. ‘Here obviously the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities. ‘The same amount of labour which he has given to society in one form he receives back in another’. since the former is based on the equality of concrete magnitudes posited by the producers – not on an abstract average that operates independently of them. p.194  •  Chapter Four society a corresponding amount of means of subsistence. child-rearing.36 This also would include kinds of work that are not valued under capitalism. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labour’. However. ‘The individual producer receives back from society – after the deductions have been made – exactly what he gives to it. 35.37 Why does he compare remuneration by labour-time to the ‘principle’ of commodity-exchange? Simply because there is an exchange of two items of equal worth: one hour of actual labour is exchanged for goods or services produced in the same amount of time. 37.34 Individuals receive from society a voucher or token that they have ‘furnished such and such an amount of labour (after deducing his labour for the common funds)’ and from it obtains from ‘the social stock of means of consumption as much as the amount of labour costs’. the exchange of labour-time for goods and services in the initial phase of a new society is radically different in form and content from capitalist commodity-relations. Yet the ‘content and form’ of this exchange are radically distinct compared with what occurs in capitalism. 86.╇ Ibid. It is important to emphasise that Marx is not suggesting that remuneration in this lower phase of socialism or communism is based on the level of 34. just two commodities are exchanged on the basis of an equality between them. This is completely different from capitalism. Marx is not saying that the worker’s labour is computed on the basis of a social average of labour-time. Marx states. Remuneration is based on ‘the individual labour time of the individual producer’. As Marx puts it. as far as this is the exchange of equal values’.╇ Ibid.╇ Ibid. Here. labour-time simply refers to the amount of actual hours of work performed by the individual.

‘To each according to his work’. 324.╇ Kornai 1992. decentralized process: the labour market. 288. Far from representing a form of the ‘new’ society.39 Kornai is correct that ‘distribution according to work’ became the justification by which the centralised command-economies in the USSR. however.40 Marx is not concerned with the form by which the worker is compelled to provide greater and greater amounts of work for the controlling agents of society. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  195 productive output by the labourer. and conflating the two readily leads to misconstruing Marx’s position. that Marx was fully aware of this. p. It is ironic that many critics of ‘actually-existing socialism’ fail to take issue with its central ideological premise – namely. and Marx was very familiar with its content. it is based on ‘the natural measure of labour’38 – time. Under classical socialism the principle of socialist distribution stated in every textbook is. He is not suggesting that the operative principle of the lower phase of socialism or communism is ‘from each according to their ability.╇ Although Kornai quotes from the Critique of the Gotha Programme. But the question remains of how performance can be measured and what the income proportionate with the performance should be. As János Kornai writes. on which the relative wages emerge. Rather. which is why no such formulation or conception enters his own discussion of a postcapitalist society. it became an administrative formula for getting the workers to produce under degrading conditions for the sake of ‘catching up with the West’. p. No such formulation appears either in the Critique or in any of Marx’s work. to each according to their work’. Kornai fails to notice. 39. the actual number of hours performed by the individual.╇ Engels used this phrase in his Anti-Dühring in explaining why distribution according to actual time worked in a new society does not imply value-production. 40. Eastern Europe and China imposed draconian social control upon the workforce. Whereas in a classical socialist economy the question of what income is due for what quantity and type of work is decided arbitrarily by persons appointed to do so. The difference between labour and labour-time is a critical analytical distinction. Yet it became the widespread interpretation of Marx in the statist-‘communist’ régimes of the twentieth century. See Engels 1987. he neglects to mention Marx’s all-important concept of remuneration based on labour-time. He is not concerned with whether the mechanism that 38. . at least in the case of earned income. There performance is measured and rewards are set mainly (but not exclusively) by an anonymous. He is also correct that ‘distribution according to work’ is not at odds with the principle by which capitalism operates. the claim that it operated according to principles laid down by Marx. To an extent the principle ‘distribution according to work’ applies under capitalism as well. The book was written shortly after Marx composed the Critique of the Gotha Programme.

740. one worker who makes three shoes an hour would receive less goods from the common storehouse than another who makes six shoes an hour. distribution according to actual labour-time. p. i. which is inseparable from the despotic plan of capital. . to serve as a measure. The workers are not ‘paid’ according to whether or not their labour conforms to some invariable standard over which they have no control. Yet if this were the case. ‘the workers in association [would] become their own capitalist. In this scenario. ‘Labour. to each according to their work’. 41. Hence. as seen from his discussion of remuneration by labour-time in the Critique of the Gotha Programme.196  •  Chapter Four compels the workers to produce more than they consume is accomplished through the arbitrary vehicle of the market or through the equally arbitrary whims of government-officials. as reflected in the wage-relation. not on the amount of productive output within that unit. is entirely consistent with value-production. why does Marx write in the Critique. workers are not being remunerated for their labour-time but for their labour-output. whereas the former. both forms rest upon the existence of wage-labour. even if the workers had political control over the economic process.42 So why does Marx state that ‘labour. As in capitalism. represents a break from value-production altogether. This would mean that the governing principle of such a society would be ‘from each according to their ability. And one who makes twelve shoes an hour would ‘earn’ more than both). to serve as measure. 42.╇ Marx 1981a. p. Yet if this is the case. must be defined by its duration or intensity’?41 Does this imply ‘distribution according to work’? At issue is what Marx means by ‘intensity’. they are made to produce more and more within a unit of time in accordance with the average amount of time that it takes to produce the product on the world-market. distribution according to labour. Labour-time is a varying and contingent standard. their performance would be measured by the intensity of labour. In direct contrast.e. The latter. Marx’s concept of socialism or communism is premised upon the abolition of wage-labour and of capital and value-production. 86. based on a given hour of actual labour performed by the individual in specific circumstances. In this sense. Both forms ‘reward’ labourers based on their productive output. it is hard to see how the lower phase of socialism or communism would be significantly different from what prevails under capitalism. Many have assumed that Marx is referring to how much is produced in a given unit of time (for instance. The worker receives an amount of means of subsistence based on the unit of time worked. they use the means of production to valorize their own labour’.╇ Marx 1989d.

Rather. But there would be no value-production. Exchange-relations cannot be rendered transparent or rational by being grafted onto a system of commodity-production that is itself irrational and mystified. Marx’s discussion in the Critique of the Gotha Programme is his most detailed discussion of a postcapitalist society. His critique of Proudhonian proposals for utilising time-chits or labourvouchers in The Poverty of Philosophy and the Grundrisse is based on the conflation of actual labour-time with socially-necessary labour-time. Students are increasingly treated as commodities. all this is completely adequate to the concept of capital. Should not the former be compensated for the intensity of their labour? The added intensity can be taken into account without violating the principle of remuneration according to labour-time so long as the output of energy. Such a determination could involve a good deal of discussion and debate. Marx’s sharp critique of his followers in 1875 for accepting the Lassallean notion that workers can obtain the full value of their product carries forth the critique he had earlier made of the Proudhonists for presuming that an ‘equitable’ distribution of the products of labour is consistent with value-production. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  197 must be defined by its intensity or duration’? I would suggest that the answer is that by intensity Marx is not referring to the quantity of output within a given unit of time. how much it should be quantified in terms of actual labour-time. For instance. as seen in the heightened emphasis on standardised testing. and not the output of the quantity of the product. the claim that Marx’s discussion of ‘intensity or duration’ implies ‘distribution according to work’ becomes eminently implausible. and if so. On these grounds. the society of freely-associated producers would need to determine if a particular kind of labour requires more energy or intensity than another.43 In this scenario. is taken as the determining factor. 43. Needless to say.╇ It may seem perverse to refer to ‘quantity of output’ when it comes to something like teaching. and the greater the quantitative output of students with high grades. a teacher of autistic children may expend more energy in four hours of instruction than someone who spends the same amount of time teaching non-autistic children. . he is referring to the output of energy in a given unit of time. the better the chance a teacher has of earning greater remuneration through promotion. but it is entirely consistent with his previous writings on the issue in the drafts of Capital as well as in its published versions. but this is precisely the direction in which the US educational system is going. He rejects such proposals because they are premised upon the existing system of commodityproduction. since production would not occur in accordance with an abstract average that operates behind the backs of the producers.

â•›. that is. These works state that remuneration in the society will at least initially be based on the labour-time of the individual. and Campbell 1996. This is especially seen from his statement in the Critique. 172. pp. There is. whereas in the old society it is not. This is of cardinal importance. 150–61.44 In neither case is Marx suggesting that value-production prevails under ‘socialism’. A fundamentally different content and form are operative in the new society. pp.45 Marx’s discussion in the Critique of the Gotha Programme is also consistent with his earlier discussions throughout the three volumes of Capital. they do not augment value. pp. almost none of it discusses his concept of the replacement of indirect social labour by direct social labour. not on labour-output that is governed by an abstraction. Moreover. Neither indicates that exchange-value or value exists in the new society. that the share of each individual producer in the means of subsistence is determined by his labour time’.╇ Marx 1976e.â•›. Volume II also states that money ceases to be the medium of social interaction in the new society and that the vouchers do not circulate. which stated. for it signifies that production-relations in the new society have become radically transformed. What makes the two radically distinct is that in the new society the exchange of labour-time for social products is transparent. See especially Neurath 2005. an important difference between the Critique of the Gotha Programme and these earlier writings. however.‘ Marx is restating his formulation at the end of Chapter One of Volume I of Capital.╇ Although a considerable amount of critical commentary has appeared on Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme. Hollander 2008. This is true of Berki 1983. Volume II of Capital explicitly endorses remuneration based on labour-tickets or vouchers along basically the same lines as the 1875 Critique. in that the Critique suggests for the first time that the postcapitalist relations under discussion thus far in Marx’s work 44. 45. but only for the sake of a parallel with the production of commodities. p. 206–8.â•›. but they can be compared to the exchange of commodities insofar as an exchange of equal determinants occurs in both cases. These works emphasise the difference between actual labour-time and socially-necessary labour-time. The neglect of Marx’s concept of direct versus indirect social labour also characterises many of those who have attempted to appropriate Marx’s 1875 Critique for conceptualising a postcapitalist society. And it is not transparent in the old society because labour is indirectly social. ‘We shall assume. ‘Here obviously the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities. 386–7.198  •  Chapter Four Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme is also remarkably consistent with his comments about the new society in the first chapter of Volume I of Capital. .

46 The initial phase of socialism or communism is defective for a number of reasons. p. ‘The true realm of freedom. is a secondary and subsidiary issue for Marx. while the exchange of equivalents in commodity exchange only exists on the average and not in the individual case’. 48.╇ Marx 1981a. 47. Remuneration. resonates with Marx’s 1875 discussion of a higher phase of communism.╇ One exception to this is Marx’s discussion of the ‘realm of freedom’ at the end of Volume III of Capital.47 the levels of remuneration would be unequal. since some individuals would work more hours than others and would therefore obtain a larger amount of the means of consumption.╇ Marx 1989d. Most important of all.48 Since labour-time – albeit in the radically-altered form of actual and not average labour-time – governs the distribution of the elements of production. 49.╇ Marx 1989d. as a factor of distribution. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  199 had pertained to the initial phase of the new society. Some degree of social inequality would exist. Marx is not suggesting by this that the only ‘side’ of individuals that matters in the lower phase of socialism or communism is their contribution in terms of labour-time. the development of human powers as an end in itself’. In Marx’s view. . equal right here is still in principle – bourgeois right. Likewise. which still is defective from the vantage-point of what eventually follows it.╇ Marx 1989d. a socialist or communist society considers individuals from many sides.╇ Marx 1989d. 86. although principle and practice are no longer at loggerheads.51 True 46. p. 51. Right can never be higher than the economic structure and its cultural development which this determines’. Their role as labourers is not the only. 86. social existence is still based on natural necessity. not socialism. 87. an individual who produces more in a given hour than another would not receive greater remuneration than one who labours for the same amount of time. it lies by its very nature beyond the sphere of material production proper’. 958–9. or even the most important aspect. ‘Hence. Since ‘one man is superior to another physically or mentally and so supplies more labour in the same time. pp. It is capitalism.49 He introduces an important note of caution here. Marx therefore writes. 50.50 As Marx states in Volume III of Capital. ‘The realm of freedom really begins only when labour determined by necessity and external expediency ends. He is therefore not suggesting that what governs remuneration defines all social relations. He is suggesting that this is all that matters when it comes to deciding upon how they are remunerated. or can work for a longer period of time’. remuneration takes into consideration ‘a certain side only’ of individuals – their contribution in terms of labour-time – ‘everything else being ignored’. 87. p. however: ‘But these defects are inevitable in the first phase of communist society as it is when it has just emerged from capitalist society. p. that views individuals only in terms of their level of productive output.

Moreover. since there is an exchange of concrete. Marx refers to a higher phase. It does not confront the producers as a fixed form that is not beholden to their particular needs and desires. since distribution no longer operates on the basis of an exchange of equivalents. ‘From each according to their abilities. a higher phase of communism is distinguished from the lower phase in that labour-time no longer serves as a measure. of course. Production and distribution.200  •  Chapter Four freedom represents a higher phase in which society is no longer measured by labour-time or defined by material production. it confronts the producers as a fixed form in the market that is not beholden to their particular needs and desires. 739 [504c2–3]. Marx discusses the radically different distributive principle that governs a higher phase of communism53 as follows: ‘From each according to their abilities. to each according to their needs’ is not a quid pro quo. ‘nothing that is imperfect is the measure of anything’. not the higher phase. He also never refers to this higher phrase as an ultimate or conclusive stage.╇ Marx 1981a. since even though its magnitude is constantly shifting and changing. Society would remain governed by material production. p. 959. It is not as if one’s needs are met only to the extent that they correspond to the expression of a given set of abilities. This higher phase is ‘the development of human power as an end in itself’.54 Sociallynecessary labour-time is a ‘perfect’ standard or measure. . like social relations as a whole. But no such exchange occurs in a higher phase of socialism or communism. labour-time does not exist as a measure in the same way as socially-necessary labour-time does in capitalism. 54. sensuous equivalents – so many hours of labour in exchange for so many goods and services produced in that amount of actual time. The lower phase represents a radical departure from commodity-production. on the other hand. Marx does not appear to have ever endorsed the notion that there is an endpoint or culmination of human history. 53. would instead be based on the totality of the individual’s needs and capacities. 52. to each according to their needs!’ This represents a significant development as compared with the lower phase. But the true realm of freedom lies beyond all of this. Actual labour-time. Even in the lower phase. human relations would still be governed by natural necessity and external expediency.╇ As Chattopadhyay 2010 points out. ‘a certain side’ of the individual will no longer determine the distribution of the elements of production. It is imperfect since is it calculated on the basis of the varied and changing actions of discrete individuals. As I see it. the form of human society’. is a very different kind of measure. As Plato once famously noted. p.52 At that point.╇ Plato 1961. If such a principle prevailed. this is consistent with Marx’s earlier formulation from 1844 that ‘communism as such is not the goal of human development.

The ‘subjective’ development of the individual is as important a precondition of a truly new society as such ‘objective’ factors as the development of the forces of production. Some translations give this passage as ‘labour has become not merely a means to live but is in itself the first necessity of living’. Marx does not feel the need to advocate specific forms of distribution in a postcapitalist society. 31. There is no longer a need for labour in any form to serve as a standard or measure. he contends. by the time we reach a higher phase of socialism or communism. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  201 Nevertheless. See Marx 1933. This also explains the nature of his discussion of the distributive principles of lower and higher phases of a new society in the Critique of the Gotha Programme. then there 55. In a higher phase of socialism or communism. He is not trying to formulate a normative model of how distribution ought to function in a new society. He is always cautious about getting ahead of what individuals could or could not achieve in the course of their practical history. 87. Marx explicitly states that in such a higher phase.55 Labour is now radically-transformed as compared with capitalism. a radical transformation occurred in production and human relations. actual labour-time too ceases to be a measure. labour would no longer be ‘only a means of life but life’s prime want’. p. labour is fully inseparable from the individual’s self-activity and self-development. p. the transformation of labour from a means to an end to an end in itself. He insists. If the material conditions of production are the collective property of the workers themselves. Marx does not specify any time-frame for these transformations. These include the end of the separation between mental and manual labour. . then the present-day distribution of the means of consumption results automatically. and only if. It is not hard to see that Marx’s vision of a higher phase of socialism or communism requires a momentous material and intellectual transformation. It certainly does not emerge overnight! Marx explicitly states that it cannot come into existence without a whole series of preconditions.╇ Marx 1989d. Instead. from the nature of the new forms of production. This does not mean that labour as such vanishes in a higher phase of socialism or communism. It becomes a self-sufficient end. a dramatic increase of the productive forces such as to alleviate the possibility of poverty and want. because they will arise. and ‘the all-round development of the individual’. since it serves not as a means to an end but as an end in itself. precisely because he is wary of imposing any conceptions upon individuals that are independent of their own self-activity. he is addressing what would occur of necessity if. ‘If the elements of production are so distributed.

‘From each according to their ability. without anxiety: the play of human faculties. for Marx. Marx repeatedly emphasises throughout his work that in a new society.╇ Marx 1989d. xxiii. to each according to their needs’ a reality.╇ Marcuse 2000. It is only through the transformation of these relations that it becomes possible to actualise the distributive principle of ‘from each according to their abilities.57 Marcuse is certainly correct that for Marx the realisation of freedom centres on the problem of time. The realization of freedom is a problem of time: reduction of the working day to the minimum which turns quantity into quality. According to Marcuse. Marx’s view is that labour-time does not 56. the division between mental and manual labour and alienated man/woman relations. p. . time will become the space for human development. p. 57.202  •  Chapter Four likewise results a distribution of the means of consumption different from the present one’. Labour-time is not only a quantitative but also a qualitative determination. 88. the problem of time revolves solely around the reduction of the working day to an absolute minimum. Each one of these relations arises only as a result of conscious. It is a product of a free society. purposeful activity by freely-associated individuals. But this is not freedom. The nuances of Marx’s discussion in the Critique of the Gotha Programme can be brought into focus by noting an important comment made by Herbert Marcuse on Marx’s view of the new society. As can be seen from a careful reading of the Critique of the Gotha Programme. A socialist society is a society in which free time. However. Marcuse also makes the questionable claim that.56 This does not mean that Marx’s discussion of the lower phase of socialism or communism is of incidental or passing importance. These conditions centre on the transformation of human relations through the abolition of indirectly social labour. Freedom is living without toil. not labour time is the social measure of wealth and the dimension of the individual existence. the problem of capitalism is to be solved by a revolution which brings the productive process under the collective control of the ‘immediate producers’. For Marx’s discussion of the lower phase points to the specific conditions that are needed to make the principle ‘From each according to their abilities. wage-labour. to each according their needs’ cannot come into being through the imposition of some administrative formula. to each according to their needs’.

immutable entity that directs the will of the producers and consumers. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  203 cease to be a measure of social wealth in the lower or initial phase of socialism. But that is a far cry from suggesting that that has anything to do with value-production.â•›. See Grundrisse. given his position that the elimination of labour as a sociallyconstitutive category is a pre-condition of a new society. but only in a higher phrase. 171. Freedom in the initial phase of socialism or communism remains defective insofar as it remains tied to the necessity of remunerating individuals based on actual labour-time. entails the abolition of labour per se.â•›. Really free work. To him. for Marx. ‘Adam Smith conceives labour to be a curse. And socially-necessary time ceases to be the measure once individuals as a social entity freely organise social production and reproduction temporally and spatially in accordance with their natural and acquired talents and capabilities. as identical with “liberty” and “happiness”â•›. p. the Critique in the Gotha Programme explicitly states that labour exists not only in the initial phase of socialism but also in a higher phase insofar as labour becomes ‘life’s prime want’. in no way implies that work is pure fun. Marcuse is led to conclude that a new society. pure amusement. p. since the creation of freely-associated. Labour. is also the most damnably difficult.╇ Marx 1976e.â•›for work to become travail attractif. Moreover.59 As noted in Chapter One. but by that he means the abolition of alienated labour. Freedom defines every phase of the new society for Marx. Marx does speak of the abolition of labour in his early writings. the composition of music. as in Fourier’s childishly naïve conception. labour engaged in material production ceases to be a measure of social relations. non-alienated labour shatters the dictatorship of time as an abstract. Marx 1986a. even when that phase still operates in accordance with natural necessity.g. e. He appears to sidestep the issue by not mentioning the Critique of the Gotha Programme in Time. demanding the most intensive effort’. 59. As he writes in the Grundrisse. 60. “rest” appears as the adequate state. external.╇ Marcuse’s position also seems to be premised upon the view that ‘toil’ necessarily involves ‘anxiety’. and Social Domination. to be the realization of the individual. This does not mean that Marx conceives of this initial phase as one in which freedom remains unrealised.. By failing to conceptually distinguish between actual labour-time and socially-necessary labour-time.60 In a higher phase of socialism.╇ Marx’s formulation causes considerable problems for Postone’s interpretation of Marx as well. This is clearly not Marx’s view. 530. since it consists of ‘free men’ ‘expending their many different forms of labour power in full self-awareness as one single social labour force’. 58. .58 A society is unfree not because labour-time is a measure. but because socially-necessary labour-time is the measure.

In his discussion of the Critique of the Gotha Programme. it is important to note that in the Critique Marx does not speak of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ but of the ‘revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat’. Marx never explicitly addresses this issue in terms of a higher phase outlined in the Critique of the Gotha Programme. but it has no basis in Marx’s actual writings. 63. Marx is realistic enough to understand.╇ Marx 1985b. It is a mediatory or transitional political stage in which capitalist social relations have not yet been fully overcome but which are in the process of being broken down.61 This is not to suggest that Marx did not conceive of a possible transitional stage between capitalism and the initial phase of socialism. however.╇ Marx 1989d. instead. Campbell 1996. He clearly refers to it as lying ‘between capitalist and communist [or socialist] society’. He is not pushing off the realm of freedom to some far horizon.╇ This would also apply. For this reason. Perhaps this is why Marx held that ‘communism as such is not the goal of human development’ and why in the Grundrisse he speaks of an ‘absolute movement of becoming’. to that higher phase in which the totality of human sensuousness is allowed its full and free manifestation.’62 Based on the above discussion of the impact of the Paris Commune. there can be no ‘end’ to a society that allows for a ‘totality of manifestations of life’.╇ I wish to thank Karel Ludenhoff for bringing this to my attention. He addresses this in the Critique of the Gotha Programme thusly: ‘Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. 64. for Marx. whom he attacked as ‘a future workingmen’s dictator’. in private correspondence. There would be no necessity for it to undergo further self-development if it did not contain some kind of internal defect that impels the forward movement. p. This failure to distinguish the political form of transition between capitalism and socialism from socialism itself is extremely widespread in the secondary literature of Marx. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. The realm of freedom emerges simultaneously with the elimination of capitalism.63 He may have done so in order to distinguish his position from that of Lassalle. However. it appears that Marx conceived of this transitional period along the lines of the non-statist and freely-associated form of self-governance that emerged in the Commune. Since intellectual and ‘spiritual’ growth is potentially infinite. 62. .64 Marx does not advocate a ‘revolutionary dictatorship’ that rules over the proletariat through a political party. was never meant to serve as a transitional stage to some distant ‘communist’ formation. p. one can speculate. he advocates the rule of 61. Marx saw in the Commune an exemplar of the political form bestsuited for exiting capitalism. 95. 207 refers to ‘Marx’s reference to socialism as the period of the dictatorship of the working class’. p.204  •  Chapter Four ‘Socialism’. that a free society itself undergoes self-development. 467. Marx does not refer the dictatorship of the proletariat as socialism.

in the case of Germany. 519. unlike in capitalism. and he lived long enough to directly 65. As the self-determining and participatory communities manage to abolish indirectly social labour and alienated human relationships. 67. Important though this stage is. Marx’s use of this phrase calls into question Cyril Smith’s claim that Marx never used the term ‘workers’ state’. which largely defined the discourse of established ‘Marxist’ thought in the twentieth century. See Chapter One. Marx makes this explicit in his ‘Notes on Bakunin’s Statehood and Anarchy’. p. See Smith 2005. with Marx’s lower phase. Marx replies. . governmental power. 66. p. Marx’s Late Writings on Postcapitalist Society  •  205 the proletariat itself as it works to progressively eliminate capital’s all-consuming social dominance through democratic forms of deliberation and participation. 143–56. its rule too is therefore at an end. pp. a decisive and qualitative break is made with capitalism. As he puts it.65 Marx identifies proletarian rule not with a party speaking in its name. is alien to Marx’s thought. 68. p. when the workers’ ‘victory is complete.╇ Marx 1989e. For. is thoroughly democratic and inclusive. In response to Bakunin’s question as to whether a working-class ‘dictatorship’ would consist. if he wants to call it that’.╇ Marx 1989e. 520. 521.66 But what Marx means by this is that ‘The class rule of the workers over the strata of the old world who are struggling against them can only last as long as the economic basis of class society has not yet been destroyed’.69 The notion that the lower phase of socialism or communism represents a ‘proletarian dictatorship’ in which value-production still prevails.68 Moreover. It further reveals how Marx understood ‘revolutionary dictatorship’ – and how different his understanding of it was from most ‘Marxists’ who followed him. Such misreadings of his work had already begun to emerge in his own lifetime. of all of the workers of the country. ‘Certainly! For the system starts with the self-government of the communities’. The masses make use of a tool or instrument of the old society.╇ Marx 1989e. insofar as the social transformations that can lead to the abolition of the state itself are not yet fully achieved. it is not equivalent to the lower phase of socialism or communism. 519. and yet this government-form. however. Marx’s comments of 1875 on the ‘self-abolition’ of proletarian rule is completely consistent with his earlier comments in The Holy Family and The German Ideology. but rather with its own ‘communities’ of association. 69.╇ Marx 1989e. written around the same time as the Critique of the Gotha Programme. since its class character will have disappeared’.╇ Ibid. this governmental form would be superseded. p. ‘This just means that when class rule has disappeared there will be no state in the present political sense’. above. He acknowledges that this can be termed ‘a workers’ state.67 This is not rule for the masses but by them.

or youth – which Marx referred to as the ‘new forces and passions’ for the ‘reconstruction of society’.╇ See Marx 1989f. zum Sozialismus führen muß’. Marx’s theory of value is the ‘cornerstone of his socialist system’. ‘The capitalist mode of production is in fact a transitional form which by its own organism must lead to a higher. It is achieved by discerning and building upon the elements of the new society that are concealed in the shell of the old one.71 It is the development of capitalism ‘as such’ and the myriad forms of resistance that arise against it – none of which can be anticipated in advance – that create the possibility for a new society. to socialism’.â•›.╇ Marx 1989h. 928. This includes elucidating the forces of liberation that arise against capitalist alienation – which includes not only workers but all those suffering the ills of capitalist society. zur genossenschaftlichen Productionsweise. 533. however. not with the application of this theory of value to a ‘social state’ not even constructed by me but by Mr. p. 71. die durch ihren eigenen Organismus zu einer höheren.206  •  Chapter Four answer them. It is on these grounds that Marx argues. to a cooperative mode of production. merely by some act of revolutionary will. . Schäffle e tutti quanti.â•›. According to Mr. Wagner. pp. 72. I am indebted to Chattopadhyay 2010 for bringing this passage to my attention.72 70. 783–4: ‘Daß die kapitalistische Producktionsweise eigentlich nur eine Übergangsform ist. One of his most poignant critiques is found in his ‘Notes on Wagner’s Lehrbuch des politischen Ökonomie’. women. [I]n my investigation of value I have dealt with bourgeois relations.╇ Marx 1976e. which was one of the first works by an academic economist to directly engage Marx’s theoretical contribution: Value.â•›. this is a fantasy of Wagner. be they national minorities. The measure of whether such a transformation is adequate to the concept of a new society is the abolition of the law of value and value-production by freely-associated individuals. This goal is not achieved. 537. As I have never established a ‘socialist system’.70 Marx’s entire body of work shows that a new society is conditional upon a radical transformation of labour and social relations. pp. Schäffle for me.

Marx’s philosophical approach.Conclusion Evaluating Marx’s Concept of a Postcapitalist Society This study has shown that a coherent and vital concept of a new society is contained in the works of Marx. carries over into his critique of the economic formations of capitalism. This perspective is hardly restricted to his early writings. Marx’s critique of capital is part of a complex argument directed against all social phenomena that take on a life of their own and dictate the behaviour and actions of the social agents that are responsible for creating them. of dead labour over living labour. as well as the content of Capital itself. of the object over the subject. both to the critique of capitalism and to the delineation of its . present from his early work of the 1840s to his last writings. From the inception of his philosophical project. Marx expressed strong opposition to any formation or situation in which individuals become dominated by social relations and products of their own making. His two-decades-long process of developing Capital. It is on these grounds that he not only opposed capitalist commodity-production but also the system of value-production upon which it is based. His criticism of the inversion of subject and predicate. which is evident from his early writings on the state and civil society. shows that the primary object of Marx’s criticism was the domination of things over individuals. in which the self-development of individuals becomes thwarted by the products of their productive activity.

his foremost object of critique is alienated human relations – including those between men and women. on the other. as I have shown. is not possible if human activity and its products take on the form of an autonomous power and proscribe the parameters in which individuals can express their natural and acquired talents and abilities. Marx’s conception that only freely-associated labour can strip the mystical veil from commodityproduction is not a mere humanitarian adjunct to an otherwise objectivistic economic theory. For this very reason. commodity-production and circulation. His critique of existing society goes much deeper than the contrast between the ‘anarchic’ market and the ‘organised’ factory. since. His conclusion that the modern world is a fundamentally inverted (and indeed a mad) phenomenon does not derive from an exaggerated commitment to ‘rationalism’ or speculative metaphysics. it derives from his understanding of freedom as the subject’s ability to feel at one with and at home in its objective manifestations. Marx’s conception of a postcapitalist society is therefore radically different from what has characterised most approaches to ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’ in the century or more since his death. just as it extends beyond the boundaries of defining socialism as the mere abolition of private property and the market. instead. on the one hand. and not least. for Marx. capital itself. As I have sought to show. Marx’s commitment to this concept of freedom owes much to his effort to re-think the status of human relations in the aftermath of the philosophical discoveries of German idealism. Marx also goes further than merely condemning the class-relations of capitalist society. Since he objects to value-production in so far as it crystallises the subjection of individuals to social relations of their own making. exchange-value. he can hardly conceive of its alternative as another structure in which human relations take on the form of things. In doing so Marx focuses on the need to eliminate the basis of both modern capitalism and its statist-‘socialist’ alternatives – value-production. His concept of the alternative to capitalism flows from . It also grounds his criticism of the state and civil society. money. is rooted in a particular conception of freedom.208  •  Conclusion alternative. instead of being controlled and dominated by them. Marx does not object to capitalism because of the mere existence of the market and private property. This conception of freedom serves as the basis of Marx’s objections to the myriad forms of social phenomena associated with modern capitalism – value. and the emergence of industrial capitalism and the formation of a radicalised working class opposing it. Free development. He objects to the market and private property insofar as they are expressions of capital – a formation that crystallises the transformation of human relations into relations between things.

he never suggests this about conditions in a higher phase either. in that it excludes any social formation that takes on an autonomous power at the expense of its creators.╇ Marx 1989d. since social relations become ‘transparent in their simplicity’ once the labourers put an end to alienated labour and the dictatorship of abstract time. as compared with the old one. Nor is it possible to leave behind such cardinal principles of the old society as basing remuneration on an exchange of labour-time for means of consumption – even though labour-time functions in a radically different form and content in his envisaged new society. 85.3 This is especially the case with his discussions of the new society in Volumes I and II of Capital. indeed.╇ Marx 1986c. 335. Just as he opposes any social formation that acts behind the backs of individuals.╇ Marx 1981a. and in much of the Critique of the Gotha Programme.4 He is addressing something much more 1. At the same time.╇ Despite the claims of some critics of Hegel. Most of his discussions of postcapitalism actually deal with a socialist or communist society that is ‘still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whom womb it emerges’. unless it avoids the tendency of human subjective activity to become constrained by forces of its own making. 4. he argued that they could serve as the basis for a future society only if they there were accompanied by ‘other large-scale organic revolutions in the mode of production’. This is why even when he noted that the concentration and centralisation of capital points towards the socialised relations of the future. so he opposes any social solution that imposes itself irrespective of the selfactivity of the subject. It is indeed fundamentally different. he warned that they too can become a ‘sham and a snare’1 if they are not under the workers’ actual. Marx understands that it is not possible to achieve complete social equality in the immediate aftermath of the demise of capitalism. This is why even when he endorsed workers’ cooperatives as a possible transitional form to socialism. 743. Evaluating Marx’s Concept of a Postcapitalist Society  •  209 the same normative concerns that govern his critique of capital itself. there is an underlying realism and sobriety in Marx’s work that runs counter to the claim that his concept of a free society requires the existence of perfect and error-free individuals. p. Marx is not suggesting that all facets of life become transparent in the lower phase of socialism or communism. 3. Marx’s conception of a postcapitalist society is therefore both expansive and visionary. p. it is highly questionable that Hegel endorsed the idea that a complete transparency is possible between the self and the . 2. control. and not just formal. p.2 Marx never endorses a given social form as the solution.

This relation can never be transparent so long as there is value-production: it becomes transparent only once indirectly social labour is replaced by directly social labour.8 Other. For more on this. morally.6 It is impossible to achieve this. and intellectually’. He discusses it as part of understanding what is needed in order to bring to realisation the more expansive social relations of a higher phase of communism.╇ Marx 1989d. he held that it would not succeed unless the revolution was joined and supported by a proletarian revolution in the industrially-developed countries. however. p. see Kain 2005. entitled ‘Labor and Society’. and the new mode of activity will create the new type of human being. p. see Hudis 2010 and Anderson 2010. which include the abolition of ‘the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labour. 5. 6. instead. let alone Marx – who often criticises Hegel for appearing to veer towards such a conception. of course. 20. The fact remains. He never held that Russia (or any other country for that matter) could create a socialist society in the absence of such an international transformation of social and production relations. Marx does not. For more on this.7 And yet it is not the productive forces that create the new society: it is. socialist man’. This higher phase. however. the transparent nature of the exchange between labour-time and products of labour. ‘For it is not the means of production that create the new type of man. he reminds us. 97–126. that conditions in the lower phase of socialism or communism are defective and limited as compared to those that follow in a higher phase. 8. and thereby also the antithesis between mental and physical labour’. 87. Marx never conceived it as possible for a society to pass to ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’ while remaining imprisoned in conditions of social and technological backwardness. Marx contends that they are ‘still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society’ in ‘every respect. See Marx 1983c. limit his horizon to the initial phase of socialism or communism. p. entertained the possibility that a country like Russia could experience a socialist revolution ahead of the West. Indeed.210  •  Conclusion specific: namely. 7.╇ Even when Marx. at the end of his life. in the absence of highly-developed productive forces.╇ Marx 1989d. can only come into being as a result of a whole series of complex and involved historical developments. This statement is contained in an essay first written in 1942.5 This is a far cry from someone who thinks that a socialist society entails the perfected human-being. live men and women. but the new man that will create the means production. pp. economically.╇ Dunayevskaya 1992. Marx conceives of this phase as the passing-beyond of natural necessity – not in the sense that labour as such would come to an end. 84. . but rather that society would no longer be governed by the need for material production and reproduction.

which centres upon tracing out the processes towards dissolution of a given social phenomenon? 9. p.â•›In this hypothesis. but the very fact that he analysed it with this aim in mind suggests that he approached his subject matter with a conception of the necessity for its transcendence.â•›. and that the latter can somehow emerge out of the formerâ•›. there was never a question of calling socialism or communism into being through the projection of a subjective wish. he often found it necessary to do so precisely because the elements of the future are contained within the very structure of the present that he subjected to such careful and painstaking critical examination. “ought” and “is” are simultaneously given – they belong together – but our awareness of this belonging would require an awakening’ (Peperzak 2004. The new society will immanently emerge from the existing conditions prepared by capitalist production and reproduction and the social struggles against them. but instead on the hypothesis that the meaning of “is” or “being” is more universal or more fundamental than that of “ought”. he held. The inescapable nature of normative statements about the future is evident from the content of Marx’s own work.â•›. Moreover. 46). If he did not have a specific kind of future in mind. regardless of how much such a state of being may be desired by particular individuals. If those conditions and struggles are not present. . nor is it desirable to avoid it – at least so long as such reflection has some grounding in reality. it would not emerge at all. For Marx.╇ ‘Many attempts have been made to deduce “ought” from “is” or to base it on some kind of “ought-free” being of facticity. why would he have adopted the specific argumentative approach found in his greatest theoretical work. Marx definitely understood his role as delineating the ‘law of motion’ of capitalism towards its collapse. precisely because what ought to be is inscribed within what is. it has been wrongly interpreted to mean that one ought not to say anything about the future – presumably because normative considerations and ‘oughts’ are out of place for ‘socialists’ and ‘historical materialists’.9 It is impossible to avoid reflection about the future. This is the reason that Marx devoted so much of his life to a detailed study and analysis of existing capitalist relations as well as revolutionary struggles and movements and why he spends so little time devising any kind of blueprint for the future. Normative considerations are as inescapable as language itself. Capital. Much as he may have wanted to avoid speaking about the future. That he said relatively little about the future. however. These attempts are not based on the presupposition that “is” and “ought” are opposed. The self-refuting nature of the proposition is self-evident but is all-too-rarely reflected upon by its expositors. has been wrongly interpreted to mean that he said nothing about the future. Evaluating Marx’s Concept of a Postcapitalist Society  •  211 Marx’s realistic humanism is most of all expressed in his insistence that the new society is contained in the womb of the old one.

since it would entail imposing a conception upon the subject from outside. however. and it would take an additional work to demonstrate the many ways in which Marx sought to navigate his way through this problem. He does not give birth to the idea of socialism or communism: he elicits it from the movement of capitalism itself. for Marx. it is not only that Marx 10. irrespective of the social conditions and relations of reality itself. a specific vision of the future. p.╇ The concept is central to Plato’s Theaetetus. Without it the very nature of his political. always emerges from within the womb of the old one. p.11 The new society. However. To do so. Marx’s writings therefore serve as a kind of midwife of the new society. would violate the very concept of freedom. But what does this say about Marx’s own standpoint vis-à-vis the object of his investigation? He does not want to project a vision or concept of the new society from out of his head. He therefore adopts the approach of elucidating the elements of the future that he finds contained within the present. . since his conception of the future (in however general a form) has helped inform his very approach to the object of his investigation. it is possible that a famous analogy from an earlier philosopher may help illuminate how Marx managed to reconcile and overcome this apparent tension between the immanent and the transcendent. while not being able to avoid analysing the present on the basis of some (however general) conception of the future. Does this mean that Marx finds himself in something of a bind – wanting to avoid ‘utopian’ speculation about the future. based on the series of values and premises that he brings to his analysis. In other words. it unwittingly creates the material conditions for a higher form of production’. If there is one persisting and recurrent theme in Marx’s analysis of capital. on the other? Can he successfully carry out the ‘scientific’ and ‘materialist’ nature of his project while remaining wedded to a conception of how the future should or ought to evolve? It may appear that there is a tension between these two dimensions of Marx’s project.10 References and illusions to the new emerging from within the ‘womb’ of the old constantly appear in Marx’s work.212  •  Conclusion Marx’s entire vantage-point hinges on not just having. For that very reason. 24 of them in the Theaetetus and once in the Cratylus and Statesman. and intellectual project could not have developed as it did. The image of midwifery (maieutics) is mentioned 26 times in Plato’s dialogues. I am referring to Plato’s conception of maieutics – of the philosopher as the midwife of knowledge. but also being committed to. economic. on the one hand.╇ Marx 1981a. after all. See Brandwood 1976. 11. 368. Neither can he avoid speaking about the future in some way. 544. it is this: ‘The development of the productive forces of social labour is capital’s historic mission and justification.

Crimean Tartars and others. he is able to explain the main elements of that new society without falling prey to utopianism. it can be argued that the greatest barrier in the way of a revolutionary challenge to capitalism today is not the material or ideological power of capital but rather the memory of the innumerable flawed and failed efforts to overcome it in the not-so-distant past. This is not to count the millions of others.╇ It has been widely estimated that between 12 and 15 million citizens of the Soviet Union laboured in the forced labour-camps at any given time during and after the forced-industrialisation campaign under Stalin. especially Ukrainians. Uzbeks. as I have shown. Given the tragic outcome of what has passed for ‘Marxism’ in the past century. Nor was this only a political problem: the economic plans of the state-controlled economies operated no less outside the control of the producers. . At the same time. who perished at his hands. Indeed. how valid is such a methodological approach and perspective? In many respects. it remains extremely valuable. precisely because Marx’s maieutic approach avoids the voluntarism and élitism that have marred far too many experiments at social transformation. precisely because we live in the shadow of the crimes committed in Marx’s name. It is that for this very reason he sees his role as being no more than the midwife who assists its delivery. Evaluating Marx’s Concept of a Postcapitalist Society  •  213 holds that the new society will emerge from within the womb of the old one. By elucidating capitalism’s tendency towards dissolution and collapse to the rising labour-movement. It is not idle speculation to presume that Marx would be the first to criticise the flawed attempts at ‘emancipation’ made in his name. since. The tragedy of ‘Marxism’ is that a philosophy that originated (at least in Marx’s hands) with the aim of abolishing any social powers that operate behind the backs of the producers ended up creating dictatorial régimes that imposed their will on individuals without even a minimal degree of democratic control or public accountability. who were reduced to wage-slavery (where they were not subjected to forced labour of a more nefarious kind). he did criticise many of them in his disputes with a number of socialist and communist tendencies of his era.12 The notion that a ‘new’ society can be imposed behind the backs of the populace and irrespective of specific social conditions faced by that society has done enormous damage– not least in leading large numbers of people around the world to question whether a viable alternative to capitalism is even possible. it does not seem possible to fully renew the Marxian project of issuing a full-throttled challenge to capital if the conception of a new society found in his writings 12. The past does hang like a dead weight upon the living – especially when alternative visions of a postcapitalist society that can animate the imagination of humanity are hard to come by.

‘Marxism’ has especially suffered from the tendency of many of its adherents to separate the ‘factual’ from the ‘normative’. he emphasised the need to develop the productive forces – whereas we are witnessing the need to limit the destructive power of much of these forces as much as and as soon as possible. and his conception of the alternative to it. Although our age may still be defined as one of a ‘birth-time of history’. they are by no means sufficient.214  •  Conclusion remains only implicit. 6: ‘Besides. The history of the past hundred years makes it painfully evident that while the material conditions for the existence of socialism are a necessary condition for freedom. his conception of how to surmount the capital relation. if the effort to elicit the emancipatory forms contained within the womb of the old is based on political shortsightedness 13. p. which is itself inseparable from valueproduction. . it has become necessary to project a much more explicit notion of what constitutes a viable notion of the alternative to capitalism than Marx himself envisaged. We must put all this behind us. the real from the ideal. Marx did not live to witness the enormous destructive potential contained in the productive power of capital that is so evident today. It is also because of a slew of social and ecological dangers facing us in the twenty-first century. the economic from the philosophical. it is not difficult to see that ours is a birth-time and a period of transition to a new era’. more relevant than ever before.13 we have also experienced all too many still-births – in large part because so many have misconstrued the nature of what constitutes a genuinely free. Precisely because every facet of life is today threatened by the all-dominating power of capital that Marx warned so eloquently against a century and a half ago. as seen in the ecological crisis.╇ See Hegel 1978. Of necessity. While the future may well be contained in the womb of the old. After all. even as the need to overcome the crushing poverty and economic under-development that afflicts much of the developing world remains one of the foremost problems facing us today. must be developed and projected today in a far more explicit and comprehensive manner than appeared necessary in the nineteenth century. non-capitalist society. Yet these very realities make Marx’s critique of capital. the events of the past hundred years make it painfully evident that there is nothing automatic or ensured about the emergence of the new. This is not only because of the way in which the limitations and ultimate collapse of the state-capitalist régimes that called themselves ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ helped give global capitalism a new lease on life. They can even lead to a new form of tyranny based on the despotic plan of capital. Given the fact that time may well be running out on the effort to save the planet from capital’s rapacious self-expansionary nature.

Evaluating Marx’s Concept of a Postcapitalist Society  •  215

and philosophical miscomprehension. Precisely because we cannot do without the labour of thinking out and working out in everyday life an alternative to capitalism, we cannot do without rediscovering the invaluable insights that Marx left us as to how to surmount the capital-relation. This is most of all needed because the lack of a viable alternative to both ‘free-market’ capitalism and what has called itself ‘socialism’ has acted as a serious impediment to social transformation over the past three decades. The barriers to generating mass opposition to capitalism surely cannot be explained by it having become a ‘kindler and gentler’ system over the past several decades: on the contrary, its drive for profit at the expense of human needs has only become more accentuated. So why have so many movements stopped short of challenging capital itself, in favour of instead emphasising relatively restricted social reforms and self-limiting revolutions? I would argue that given the absence of a viable alternative to capitalism, discontent with the many ills of existing society risks falling short of a serious challenge to the system as a whole. In this sense, a philosophically grounded alternative to capitalism is not only needed to further develop mass-opposition; it is needed to actually inspire it.14 This work has tried to show that a much deeper, richer, and more emancipatory conception of a postcapitalist society is found in Marx’s work than has hitherto been appreciated. This is not to say that Marx provides anything in the way of a detailed answer as to what is a viable alternative to capitalism. His work does, however, contain crucial conceptual markers and suggestions that can help a new generation chart its way towards the future. Rather than wait upon ‘a sunburst, which, in one flash, illuminates the features of the new world’,15 the realities of our time, in terms of its triumphs as well as its tragedies, calls on us to develop a much more explicit and articulated alternative to capitalism than appeared necessary in Marx’s time, and even to Marx himself. We do the most justice to a thinker like Marx, not by repeating what he said and did, but by rethinking the meaning of his legacy for the realities of our times. It is to this end that this study is devoted.

14.╇ For more on this, see Hudis 2005a. 15.╇ Hegel 1978, p. 7.

Appendix Translation of Marx’s Excerpt-Notes on the Chapter ‘Absolute Knowledge’ in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Note: Marx’s notes on the chapter ‘Absolute Knowledge’ from Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit have never before appeared in English translation. They were composed at the time Marx wrote the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, most likely as part of his work on the concluding part of the Third Manuscript, now known as ‘Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic and Philosophy as a Whole’. The original can be found in Karl Marx-Friedrich Engels Gesamtausgabe [MEGA2] IV/2 (Berlin: Dietz Verlag), 483–500. Page numbers in the text (in brackets) are to the edition of the Phenomenology used by Marx (G.W.F. Hegel, Phänomenologie des Geistes, ed. Johann Schulze [Berlin, 1841]), as supplied by the editors of MEGA2. Marx’s notes consist mostly of copying out passages and paraphrasing parts of this final chapter of Hegel’s Phenomenology. Places where Marx inserts his own comments are indicated by boldface. All emphases and ellipses are by Marx. The manuscript breaks off about two-thirds of the way into the chapter on ‘Absolute Knowledge’. In translating these notes, I have consulted the translations of Hegel’s Phenomenology by A.V. Miller and J.B. Baillie without, however, necessarily committing myself to their respective renderings of Hegel’s text.

Translation of Marx’s Excerpt-Notes on ‘Absolute Knowledge’╇ •â•‡ 217

In the Phenomenology, Absolute Knowledge thus becomes described as:
1)╇ In revealed religion the actual self-consciousness of Spirit is not yet the object of its consciousness; it and its moments fall within picture-thinking and in the form of objectivity. The content of this picture-thinking is absolute spirit; it is still a matter of transcending this mere form. [p. 574.] 2)╇ This surmounting of the object of consciousnessâ•›.â•›.â•›.â•›is not to be taken in a onesided manner, that the object showed itself returning into the self; rather, it is to be taken specificallyâ•›.â•›.â•›.â•›to not only mean that the object showed itself as returning into the self, but above all that the object presents itself not only as a vanishing factor but as the externalisation of self-consciousness that posits thinghood. This externalisation has not merely a negative but a positive meaning, not merely for us or in itself but for self-consciousness itself. The negative of the object, or its self-transcendence, has a positive meaning, for on the one side it knows this nothingness of the object that it itself externalises; – for in this externalisation it posits itself as the object or the object as the inseparable unity of being-for-self. On the other hand, there is also this other moment, that self-consciousness has equally transcended this externalisation and objectification as it has returned to itself, so that it is with itself in its otherness as such. 3)╇ This is the movement of consciousness and herein is found the totality of its moments. – It must have taken up a relation to the object in the totality of its determinations and from the point of view of each of them. This totality of its determinations means the object is in itself a spiritual being and it is so because in truth consciousness apprehends each individual one of them as its own self, through the spiritual relationship just mentioned. [pp. 574–5.] 4)╇ The object is thus the partly immediate being or the thing in general – corresponding to its immediate consciousness. It is partly a becoming other of itself, its relationship or essential being is for another and for itself; its determinateness – corresponds to perception, partly to essential being in the form of a universal corresponding to the understanding. (Being, Essence, Concept; Universality. Particularity. Individuality. Position. Negation. Negation of the Negation; simple, differentiated, transcended opposition. Immediacy. Mediation. Self-transcending mediation. Being in itself. Externalisation. Return to itself from externalisation. In-itself. For-itself. In-and-for-itself. Unity. Differentiation. Self-differentiation. Identity. Negation. Negativity. Logic. Nature. Spirit. Pure Consciousness. Consciousness. Self-Consciousness. Concept. Judgement. Syllogism.) It

218╇ •â•‡ Appendix

is then a whole, a syllogism, or the movement of universality through particularisation to individuality, as also the reverse movement, from the individual through its transcendence or determination to the universal. – These are the three determinations by which consciousness must know the object as itself. This knowing of which we here speak is not that of the pure comprehension of the object; instead, this knowing is to be taken only as aspects or moments of its coming to be in the manner appropriate to consciousness as such, as moments of pure knowledge, the concept itself, in the form of shapes of consciousness. For this reason the object does not yet appear in consciousness as the spiritual essence that we have spoken of; the relationship of consciousness to it is not the view of this totality as such nor in its pure form as the concept. Instead, it is from one side a shape of consciousness in general, and from the other side a number of moments that we bring together, in which the totality of the moments of the object and the relations of consciousness to the object can be indicated only as resolving itself into its moments. [pp. 575–6.] 5)╇ In regard to the object in so far as it is an immediacy, a being of indifference, we saw Observing Reason seeking and finding itself in this indifferent thing – that is, as equally conscious of its action being external to it, and as the object that is only known immediatelyâ•›.â•›.â•›.â•›its specific determination is expressed in the infinite judgment that the being of the I is a thing. And moreover, the I is a being of sensuous immediacy; when the I is called a soul it is in fact represented as a thing, but as something invisible, intangible; in fact not as an immediate being, what one means by a thing. That non-spiritual judgment [2] is the concept of its spirituality. Now to see how this inner sense becomes pronounced. The thing is I, that is, the thing transcended; in itself it is nothing. It has meaning only in the relation, through the I and its connections with it. – This moment comes forth for consciousness in pure insight and enlightenment. Things are simply considered to be useful and are considered only in terms of their utility.â•›.â•›.â•›.â•›The cultivated self-consciousness, which has traversed the world of self-alienated spirit, has through its externalisation produced the thing as its own self; it therefore retains it in itself, and knows that the thing has no independence, that the thing is essentially only being for an other; or, to provide complete expression to the relationship, to what here constitutes the nature of the object, the thing exists as being-for-self; it declares sense-certainty to be absolute truth; however, this being for self is itself declared a vanishing moment which passes into its opposite, into a being that is at the mercy of another. – But the knowledge of the thing is still not complete; it must become known not only in terms of the immediacy

Translation of Marx’s Excerpt-Notes on ‘Absolute Knowledge’╇ •â•‡ 219

of its being and determinateness, but rather also as essence or inner being, as self. This is present in moral self-consciousness. It knows its knowing to be what is absolutely essential or that being is pure will and pure knowledge; it is nothing else except this willing or knowing. Any other has only unessential being, that is, not being in and for itself, only its empty husk. In so far as the moral consciousness lets determinate being go forth freely from the self, so too it takes its conception of the world back into itself once again. Finally, as conscience it is no longer this ceaseless alteration of determinate being placed and displaced in the self; instead, it knows that its determinate being as such is this pure certainty of its own self; the objective element in which it puts itself is thus nothing other than pure knowledge of itself by itself. [pp. 576–7.] 6)╇ These are the moments of which the reconciliation of spirit with its own particular consciousness is composed. By themselves they are single and solitary, and their spiritual unity alone provides the power of this reconciliation. The last of these moments is this unity itself and binds them all together into itself. Spirit, which in its determinate being is certain of itself, has for the element of its existence nothing else but this very knowledge of itself. The declaration that what it does is in accordance with the conviction of duty, it is the valuing (Money) of its action. – Action is the first inherent division of the simple unity of the notion and the return from out of this division. This first movement turns over into the second, in that this element of recognition posits itself as simple knowledge of duty as against the distinction and diremption that lie in action as such; in this way it constitutes a stubborn actuality confronting action. In forgiveness we saw how this hardness surrenders and divests itself. Actuality, therefore, as immediate determinate being, has no other significance for self-consciousness than that of being a pure knowing; – likewise, as determinate being or as relation, what is self-opposed is a knowing partly of this purely individual self and partly of knowledge as a universal. Herein it is equally posited that the third moment, the universality or essence, is valued only as knowledge for each of the two sides that stand in opposition to one another. Finally, they put an end to the empty opposition that still remains and are the knowledge of I = I – this individual self that is immediately a pure knowing or a universal. [pp. 577–8.] [3] How reconciliation of consciousness with self-consciousness comes about is stated in two ways: 1) In religious spirit, 2) in the consciousness of itself as such. 1) Reconciliation in the form of being-in-itself; 2) in the form of being-for-itself. In our consideration of them they fall apart. The unity of the two sides is not exhibited: 1) Spirit in itself, absolute content;

[pp. [pp. comprehended knowing. [pp. the beautiful soul. as essential being that this pure self-consciousness. Hegel keeps developing the tedious process of the beautiful soul. 580–82. the unity. – It is as the particular shape of consciousness. 579–80. as well as the other aspect of spirit. for this is simple immediacy. as other. the self realises the life of absolute spirit. lies in the purity of the concept. 578–9. it is there or it acts.â•›.] The fulfilment of the concept is partly in the acts performed by Spirit. for it is self-existent being itself. have been brought forth and is here in its completeness. which the movement of self-consciousness stands against. which is being and existence as well as essence. whose result is the pure universality of knowledge. the former the negative. Truth is the content. Its realisation firmly opposed. – The concept connects the content to itself. that is. This shape is just that of the simple concept.] 8)╇ Spirit knows itself in the shape of spirit. Similarly. The genuine concept is the knowing of pure knowledge as its being. In the prior shape the form is that of the self itself.220╇ •â•‡ Appendix 2) for itself. which is self-consciousness. This equality however is obtained. Through this realisation.â•›. not only implicitly but explicitly or in a developed and differentiated way. since the religious aspect is the aspect of the in-itself. 3) Spirit in and for itself.] 7)╇ This unification in religion. The content. as present in the return of picture thinking into self-consciousness. is the simple unity of the concept. the knowledge of this subject as substance and of substance as this knowledge of its own act. The unification belongs to this other aspect. which in contrast is the aspect of reflection into self. in which the concept stands forth. but not however according to the intrinsic form. it has the element of its being or reality in itself. The diremption or coming forth out of its inwardness. it contains itself and its opposite. and the concept is the knowledge of the self’s act within itself as all that is essential and all existence. its selfconsciousness attains the form of universality. the shape of self-certain spirit. Truth not only is itself identical with certainty. the determinateness of the concept is raised up against its fulfilment. is equally a genuine object.â•›. for this is the absolute abstraction of negativity. which relinquishes its eternal essence. in the form of comprehended spirit that knows itself. which is still lacking. since the . which in religion is still not identical with its certainty. partly in religion. it is the one-sided shape that vanishes into thin air but also positively externalises itself and moves forward. contentless form or as the aspect of self-consciousness. in that it contains the self-certain spirit that acts. the latter positive thought itself. but it also has the shape of certainty of its own self or its determinate being.

Translation of Marx’s Excerpt-Notes on ‘Absolute Knowledge’╇ •â•‡ 221

concept has secured the shape of the self. In this way that which is the very essence has become the element of existence, or has become the form of objectivity for consciousness – that is, the concept. Spirit, appearing in this element in consciousness, or produced by consciousness, is science. It is the pure being-for-self of consciousness; it is I, that is this and no other I and is no less so an immediately mediated or transcended universal I. It has a content that it differentiates from itself; for it is pure negativity or diremption; it is consciousness. This content in its differentiation is the I itself, for it is the movement of transcending itself or the pure negativity that the I is. In it the I as differentiated, is reflected into itself; the content is grasped only when the I in its otherness is at one with itself. [pp. 582–3.] [4] This content, stated more specifically, is nothing other than the movement just spoken of; for the content is the spirit that traverses its own self and does so for itself as spirit, by the fact that it possesses the shape of the concept in its objectivity. As regards the existence of this concept, science does not appear in time or reality until spirit has attained this consciousness of itself. As spirit that knows what it is, it exists not before and nowhere at all until after spirit has completed its work of overcoming its incomplete shape so as to secure for consciousness the shape of its essence – and in this way to equate its self-consciousness with its consciousness. See the continuation, p. 583 ff. Being that is hidden to itself is apparently only the certainty of itself. The relationship of time to history. Comprehended spirit the annulling of time. Experience, Knowledge, transformation of substance into subject, the object of consciousness into the object of selfconsciousness, that is, in as much as the transcended object or concept. It is only as this reflection of itself into itself that it is the truth of spirit. In so far as spirit is of necessity this self-differentiation, its intuited whole appears over against this simple self-consciousness; and since the whole is differentiated, it is differentiated into its intuited pure concept – into time and the content of the in-itself. Substance as subject involves the at-first inner necessity to represent in itself what it inherently is as spirit. The completed objective presentation is equally the reflection of substance or its development into the self. Consequently, unless spirit completes itself in itself, has not done so as world spirit, it cannot reach its completion as self-conscious spirit. Therefore, the content of religion expresses earlier in time than science what spirit is; but science alone is the true knowledge of itself. The movement, the form of its knowing as such [pp. 583–5.]


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156 Bastiat. Jacques Pierre. 124. 182 n. 53. 121. 33–4. 148–51.F. Paul. 163. 15. 71. 138–9. 82–3. Bruno. 173. 95 n. 205 Banks. 127. 89. 142. 23 n. 19. 66. Civil society Bourgeoisie. 69–70. 40. Transcendence of alienation Alienated labour. 9 n. 4 n. 103. 93 n. 208 see also Capital. 167. 123 Ataraxia. 90 n. 127. Marx’s critique of. 76. 15. 128 Arthur. 14. 142. 2 Brissot. C. Riccardo. 13. 135. 40 Automation. Otto von. 74. 205 Anarchy of the market. 19. 31. 66–7. 192. 62. 9. 64. 119. 139. 91. 186. 74. 138. 24 n. 118. 111. 73. 38–42. 220 Spirit. 22. 45 Bernstein. Theodor. 22. 184. Hans-Georg. 80. 69–71. 47 n. 55 Backhaus. 176 Adorno. 75. 191 Art. 178. 116 Ancient Rome. 7 Antiquity. 1 Berki.W. 104. 170. 82. 120–1. 124. 121. 24. 104. 19. 96. 83. 75. 43. 81 n. 168 ‘Asiatic’ Mode of Production. 52. 118. 73. 50. 68–9. 31. 65. 133 n. 59–60. August.J. 154. 27 Bauer. 145. 48. 9. 106 n. 92. 129 Autonomy. 142. 150 n. 33. 32 n. 88. 191. 159. 121 n. Shlomo. 12. 65. 15–16. Wilhelm. 111. 116 Anderson. R. 105. 149–52. 195. 35. 43 n. 216–21 negativity. Eduard. 43 n. 6. 10. G. 1 Bismarck. J. John. despotic plan of Ancient Greece. 210 n. 65–6. 155. 32 see also Marxism. 26 Albritton. 230. 120. 217–20 Bell. 15. 218 see also Alienated labour. 119. 171.B. Kevin. 32. 21–5. 16 n. 87 Bourgeois society. 204 see also Capitalism. 145 Artisans. 152. 61 Abstract labour. 99–100 Brazil. 113. 138. 110. 74. 216 Bakunin. 116. 203. 97. 17. 135–6. 179 n. 44 Autonomist Marxism. 177 Baran. 140. 6. 22–3. 73 n. 16 n. 155 Bracke. 16. 64. 122 see also Dialectical method.. 67 n. 77–8. 130. 120 n. 128. 122. dialectics. 88. 52. 151 Idea.Index Absolute. 69 Knowledge. 119 Appearance. Pierre Le Pesant. 20. 137–8. 80 Alienation. 208. 205–6. 117. 93 n. 98. Absolute movement of becoming. 73. 100–2. 52 . 165–6. Mikhail. 140 n. 204 n. 25–6. 40 Athens. 27–8. 163–5. 189 Bray. 188 Boisguillebert.. 135 Bureaucracy. 154. 191–4 see also Dual character of labour Abstractions. 101 n. 35. 9 Bellofiore. 14. 109. 132 n. 85. 11. Jacques. 44. 186 n. John. 188 Being. 126. 198 n. 58–64. 19 Anarchism. subjectivist Avineri. 113 Bidet. 179 n. Louis. 209 Althusser.. 56 n. 149. 109. 221 Aristotle. 111. 97–8. 38. 31 Baillie. 153. 76 Bebel. 9–14. Robert. 14–17. 94. 217–21 subject.N. Frédéric. 85. 41 Atomism. 82–3. Hegel.

169–70. 143–5. 200–3. 196. 107 n. communal Communism. 70. 31. 211–13. 60. 227. 162–3. postcapitalist society. 166–7. free individuality. 14. 57. 33 n. 169–71 of commodities. 208 Cohen. 31–3. 124–30. 55 Commodities. 97. 126–7. 119. 28. 24. 171–2. 62 Capitalism. 138. 127 speculative. 144. 190–4. 118 Capital. 22–5. 11–12. 207 Commodity-exchange. 170. 200–1. 209–10 see also abolition of value production. 94. 143. 17. 101. 96. 113. 98. 103. 27. 140–2. 116. 10–15. 153–5. 87. 28. Etienne. 172–8. 81. 80. 102. 135 Competition. 89 n. 185. 15. 99. 129. 179–80. 100. 217. 121. 109–21. 170–2 law of motion of. 29. 176 Comte. 28. 83–4. transcendence of Communist League. 132 logic of. 74. 169–70 concentration and centralisation of. 179. 96. 206. 166–7. 174 despotic plan of. 113. 153–5. 207–8 Class-consciousness. 119–20. 175. 162 n. 96. 64. 190. 17. 135 n. 136 circulation of. 114. Paresh. 70.232  •  Index Cabet. 205. 13 n. 139.A. 119 n. 85. 102. 46. 199–205. 9. 1. 82–4. 6. 75. 55 n. 157–8. 198. Gabriel. 173. 70. 92. 212 lower phase of. Henry Charles. 75. 140 organic composition of. 154. 49. 72. 136. 53. David. 176. 43. 9. 194. 112 n. 28. 176. 2. 191–2 see also Dual character of labour Consciousness. 85. 160. 98. 5 n. 133. 68. 189–90. 56 n. 21. 45–7. 22–3. 48. 28. 135–6. 28–30. 62. 196. 24 n. 66. 60. 61. 167. 206–7. 129. 169. 9–10. 208. 197–8 Commodity-form. 186 accumulation of. 65. 77. 55.. 160 n. 107. 174. 95. 29 . Francois-René. 213–15 abolition of. 78–80. 159 n. 60 n. 30. 53 Chavez. 197 n. 164. 199 n. 164 as self-expanding value. 179–80 Carey. 103–4. 3. 187–90. 13 defining feature of. Victor Prosper. 19–20 limits of. 215 historical development of. 144. 107–8. 23. 22. 59. 135. 190 n. 20–1. 46 Constituent power. 7 n. 81 Class-struggle. 125. 118 n. 122 n. 13. 82 Categorical Imperative. 127. 169. 114–15. 139 Carthage. 110–12. 169. 132 n. 50 Communal relations. 29 n. 69. 118–19. 165–7. 98. 102–11. 66 Circulation. 122 n. 104. 154–5. 12. 107. 54 Catholicism. 55 n. 75. 200 n. 47–52. 208–9. 160. 199. 167. 132. 184–7. 140. 117–18. 214 general formula of. 197 China. 12–13. 160–3. 143–5. 54 Children. 196. 75 higher phase of. 174–7. 45. 53 n. 180. 176. 10–13. 47 n. 93. absolute movement of becoming. 97. 192–5. 113. 36. 204. 209 constant. 201. 81. 220–1 Concrete labour. 72–3. 159 Charavay. 98. 32. 164. 73 n. 37. 23. negation of the negation. 110 n. 170–1. 197 n. 15. 14 n. 17. 163. 179 n. 69. 30. 72–3. 181–2. 217–21 Considérant. 194. 81. 115. 86. 56. 193–6. 80–1. logic of the. 82. 122 n. 60. 47 n. 144. 212 vulgar. 12. 205. 33. 199 n. 67. 172. 130. 82. 195 Christianity. 60 n. 72. 16. 93. 14. 17. 152. 203. 72–3. 161–7. 84. 56–8. 127. 143. 43. G. 24–5. 147–8. 42. 59. 46. 122. Hugo. 166. 148–52. 6. 164. 114. 153. 144. 74. 56 n. 129–30. 192. 29–32. 165. August. 18–20. 7. 63–4. 7. 29. 98. 107 n. 89. 198 n. 170–3 as inseparable from wage-labour. 102–4. 52. 9. 76–7. 104–5. 204 n. 81–2. 101 n. 172 n. 161. 142. 150. 200. 147 Concept. 185 see also Property. 98. 96. 178 variable. 188 Classes. value-production. 20. 157–8. 98 Communists. 205. 135. 161. 132. 29. 164–6. 53 Chattopadhyay. 208 of capital. 12. 65. 180. 138. 33. 209–10. 15. 167. 16–17. 55. 104–5. 118 Chateaubriand. 46. 97. 170. 211 Capitalists. 88–90. 62. 208 Civil society. 51. 173 n. 77. 6–7. 33. 98. 19–21. 194. 96–7. 34. 38. 214 as subject. 95. 43. 60. 55. 170. 174–5 Campbell. 102. 121 n. 185–6. 63. 34. 133. 12. 4–8. new society. 32. 46.

187–8. 124. 191. Louis Alfred. 101–7. 152–55. 27. 26. 59 Dual character of labour. 53. 156 . 17. 121 n. 95. 143 Enjoyment. 55 Europe. 34. 91. 126. 132 n. 167 Distribution. 34. 26. 60 n. 1. 96. 96–7. 112–13. 127. 154. 134 Ecology. 70. 217–21 Estates. 135. 76. 9. 176 Culture. 114. 16. 69. logic of Dialectical method. 23–4. 21. 126. 158. 158. 194. (1846) 75–82. 93–4. 113. 160 n. 85–6. 107. 183–5. 76–7. 120. 116 n. 154. 162 n. 160–1. 121 n. 216–18 see also Alienation Family. 128. 205 Democritus. 108. 6. 156. 49. 91. 5 n. 195 Economic austerity. 113 Darimon. 35. 118. 86. 209 Credit. 200–1 see also circulation Distribution of the elements of production. 179–81. 209. 18. 99. 71. Friedrich. 155. 102–7. 199 n. 105 Marx’s theory of. 6. 50. 123. Enrique. 183. 111. 70–3. 161. 7 n. 4. 7. 230. 1. 187–90. 188–9 Empiricism. 101–2. 52. 74. 157. 103. value-production. 82–4. 208 Externalisation. 32–3. 22–3. 21. 16. 122. 69 Herr Dühring’s Revolution in Science. 14. 160. 1. 195 Exchange. 14. 82. 150. 170. 78–9. See commodity-exchange Exchange of activities. 139. 87–8. 12. 94. 130–1. 141–3. 14. 210 n. 144–5. 82. 152 see also abstract labour. 57. 143. 134 n. 8 n. 197 Edmunds. 53. 126. 135. 131. 205. 89. 176 Enlightenment. 92. 188 n. 118. 124. 132 Education. 142. 12 Crises. 48. 80. 114. 124. 189. 216 historical. 28. 189. 11. 158–9 166. 214 Eastern Europe. 75 n. 166. 48. 214. 211 of capitalism. Absolute. 156. 114 Dehumanisation of the Idea. 88. 115. 28. 35 see also Hegel. 211–13 of precapitalist formations. 75. 167. 167. 154. 73 n. 55. 178. 64–8. 170. 15–16. 66. 47 n. 97 Dézamy. 184–5 The German Ideology. 149–51. 144. 169. 96 Effective demand. Louis. 59. 140 n. 195 Engels. 71. 75. See Capital. 93. 120 see also postcapitalist society. 201 Draper. 209 Contingency. 134. 122. 8. 39 Detroit. 179 Crimean Tatars. 175. 71–2. 55 Dussel. 17. 123. 67. 169. 40.R. 16. 80. 171–3 Eisenachers. 23. 148–52. 200 see also Passion Determinism. 129 n. 115. 205 n. 118 Dialectic of capital. 114. 134. 5 n. 114. 75. 5 n. 35 systematic. 35. Raya. 138. 138. 186–7. 21–5. 122. 91. 59. 176–7. 46. 14. 110. 90. transcendence of Exchange-value. 42. 195 The Holy Family (1845). 12. 128. 206 n. 115. 192. 69. 44. 1. 112. 119. 68. 163 Feudalism. 137–8. 117 Dialectics. 90 n.. 71. 32. 180. 106. 5. 8 n. See Revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat Dissolution. 194. 227. 39–40 Desires. 89. 122–4. 47 n. 13. 136–9. 9. 4–5. 85. 193. 8 Dupré. concrete labour. 93 n. 220 Cooperatives. 55 n. T. 127 Engels. 110–11. 111. 58. 110–13. 156. 196. 171–2. 71 Fetishism of commodities. 218 Epicurus. 196 Contradiction. 90 Democracy. 140. 83. 144–5. 141 n. value-production Index  •  233 Dunayevskaya. 39–41 Essence. 89 n. 198. 14. 70. 213 n. 69 England. 66. 44. 5 n. 23. 65–6. dialectical method Dictatorship of the proletariat. 116 n. 5. 116 n. Consumption. 170–3. 140. 174–5. 67 n. 21–2. 86. 169. 32–4. 32. 4–6. 131. 104. 105. 201–3. 1. 8. 7. 35. Théodore. 31. 123. Friedrich (works) The Communist Manifesto (1847). 84 n. 166 n. 66. 112 n. 1. Hal.

149. 183. 44–45. 5. 81. 15 Hardt. 117. 210 see also Women. 56 n. 145. 173. 94. Marx’s concept of. 69. 75–6. 82. 10. 200–1 Human nature. Ben. 216–21 Hegel. 80–1. 134 n. 22.F. 206. 27 n. Thomas. 117–18. French (1789). 50 see also Exchange-value Foucault. 50 n. Samuel. 76. 47–54. 188. 65. 87. 153 Hegelianism. 75. 43–4 Gender. 4. 145 German Social-Democratic Party (SPD). 26 Free association. 60. 26–7 Hook. 89. 140. 187 Fordism. 74. 65–6. 208 Global-justice movement. 40–2. 47–54. 107. 18. 73 n. 214. 38–9. 166. 19. G. 73–74. 61. 65–72. Thomas. 84–5. 177 n. 198 n. 209. 123. 135. 168. 216–21 Philosophy of Right. 74–5. 166. 34. Paris Commune (1871) Frankfurt school. 200 n. 84. Charles. 84. 87. 220–1 . 1–2 Globalisation. 145. 118 Grotius. 138. 38 n. 188 Germany. 217–19. 113–17. 167. 2. 4–5. 210. 123 Habermas. John. 23. 93 n. 52. 7. Max. 19. 133. 78. 165. 208. 60 n. 148. 123. 201. 36 France. 20 n. 86 Fichte. 90. 43. 65. 121. 40–1. 52. 71. 167 Godwin. 10. 88. 187–8. 106 n. 15 Hudis. 13. 69–70. 47–8. 5. 72. 189 Hegel. 90 Ideality and Reality. 141 n. 5. 53. 131. 112–14 Health services. Michael. 86. 90–2. 3 n. 50. 55 n. 156 n. 53. 133. 110. 72–73. Marx’s concept of. 212. 88–90. 48. 150. 135 Gray. John. 179. 72. 210–11 Humanitarianism. 66 n. 42–43. 86–7. 43. 44 Friedrich Wilhelm III. 45. 88. David. 68 n. 59 Heteronomy. 33. 170 Formalism. 139. 187–8 Geology. 128–9. 202. 160. 31–4. 85–7. 191. 33–4. 118. 127–8. Peter. 133. 208–14 Immediacy. 147 n. 113. 183–7 see also Revolution. 202. 54. 203 n. Ludwig. Roberto. 50. 47 n. G. 115. 208 Immanence. Women’s liberation General Union of German Workers (ADAV). 45 Holloway. 49–50. 194. 89–90. 38–9. 38. 6 Fourier. 46. 135. 68 n. 41 see also Young Hegelians Henry. 68 n. 132. 1 History. 16 n. 51 n. 9. 64–8. 38–9. 156. 138. 149. 31. 122 n. William. 43. 46. 98. 108 Hinrich. 118. 202. 30 Foreign trade. 60 n. 138 Forms of value. 147 Science of Logic. 101. 38 Fineschi. (works) Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. 129 n. 206. 85–6. Sidney. 199–204. 1. Rudolph. 186 n. 10 Harvey. 78 Philosophy of Spirit. 45. 138 n. 75. 74 n. 96. 214 of the press. 62. 122 n. 96. 15. 85. Jürgen. 1 First International. 51. 32 n. 119. 169. 38. 206 see also Labour. freely associated Freedom. 94. 217. 69. 210 n.W. 127–8. 19. 132. 71. 134. 158. 66.234  •  Index Feuerbach. 72. 76. 66 n. 94 n. 160 n. 51 n. 76. 67–8. 221 Hobbes. 183–7. 215 n. 28. 73. 138 n. 79–80. 64–73. 95. 73 n. 33. Michel. 26. 113–15. 22. 51 of the will. 179 n. 201. Hugo. 156–7. 22–3. 208. 64–5. 5 n. 208. 147 Phenomenology of Spirit. 33. 126. 209. 171 Having versus Being. 135 n. 66–7. 106. 31. 34. 59. 179. 46 Guilds. 52. 70. 152. 93. 59 Fowkes. 53. 10. 72 Humanism. 141. 159. 142. 102. 59. 42 n. 86 n. 48 Hodgskin. 143 Hollander. Michael. 215–21 Marx’s critique of. 78. 88–89. 96. 216–21 Marx’s debt to. 55 n. 14 Human emancipation. 53 n. 151. 147. Johann Gottlieb.F. 1. 69–70. 168. 7. 103. 214 Idealism. 93 n. 44–6. 174. 69 Horkheimer. 3. 5. 6 Hilferding. 81. 180–1. Michel.. 73. 44 Heuristic. 133. 8. 78–9. 186. 66. 160. 53. 15. 17. 15. 47 n. 54. 22. 1–3. 151.W. 45–6. 69–70 First Philosophy of Spirit. 23. 175.

190–1. 203. 28–9. 111. 193–6. 187–8. 77. 86. 61. 7. 101. 182. 95. 77 concrete. 19 Kaufman. 36. 13 n. 148 n. 159–60. 107. 211 natural. 164. 79. 190–1. 114–15. 112. 107. 155. 121 n. 159. 64. 179. 124 Labour-theory of value. 179 n. 56 n. 91 Kornai.R. 77. 25. 167 n. 89 n. 149. 18. 175. 168. 135. 34. 157–9. 89 n. 199–202. Oskar.L. 115. 108 Kenya. Leszek. 68–9. 207 mental. Andrew. 210 as subject. 78. 111. 40. 207 directly social. Wassiley. 124. 144 see also alienated labour. 127–8. 134–7. 77. 193–6. 67 n. 101–2. 137–9. 80. wage-labour Labour-power. 26. 44–6. 79. 110. 188 n. 191–4. 106 Jews. 97. 60. 177. 138. 154. 118. 9 n. 165–6. 143–6. 109–11. 175. 75. 10–11. 117. 127. 32–3.. 217–19 abstract. 32. 210 division of. 99. 178. 195. 16. 163 Individuality. 24. 190–1. 168 n. 118 n. 210. 132 Interest-bearing capital. 157–9. 94. 105–7. 147 Kautsky. 153–4. 203–4. 95–6. 102. 75–81. 81 n. 160. 88 n. 77. 106. 106. 191. 98. 97. 162. 102. 144. 132 n. 113–14. 175. 163. 135. 111. 19. 24. 197 James. 190–2. 119. 172 n. 4 Kant. 114–15. 124–32. 151–61. 20. 186 n. 197. 100–3. 142 n. Philip. 193. 96–7. 102.. 179–81. 141. 52 n. 109. 47. 167 Labour. Kojin. 31 n. 187. 1. 156 Lassalle. 130. 150. 201–2. 173. 156–7. 139 Kain. 154. 175. 111. 26. 110–11. 55. 187 Inversion of subject-object. 194–5. 175. 200 free. 98. 181 Jones. 18. 204 Laws. 57. 182–7. 155. 166. 78. 38. 130. 201 Industry. 127–8. 90 n. 118 n. 116. 94. Richard. 60 n. 16. 29–30. 131. 57. 141. 212–13 Ionian philosophy. 189. 18. Stathis. 6–8. See First International Internationalism. 23–24. 157 surplus. 118. 177 n. 169. 125. 98. 169. 227. 140 n. 199 n. 164. 199 Information-economy. 130–1. 30 Kierkegaard. 52 n. Karl. 139. 206. 208 indirectly social. 27. 158–9. 42–3. 49. 194–6. 141–5. 227. 61–2. 164. 116 n. C. 90. 84. 131. 109. 192–3. 210 freely associated. 45. 124. 61–2. 13 Kliman. 202. 118. 143. 209 Land. 20 n. 108 n. 159. 80. 175. 138. 91. 97–8. 60. 77. 198–201. 83. 113. 112. 206 Lenin. 197. 81. 30. 18. 197–8 Labourer. 199. 124–6. 102 Law of value. 122–3.I. 82. 125. 129. 176 International Workingmen’s Association. 191 value of. 170. 15. 157–9. 113–14. 83. 12. 186. 141. 206 Index  •  235 dead. 135 conditions of. 168. 48–52.I. 128. 67–69. 110. 32. 210 necessary. abstract labour. 170. 202 Labour-time. 34. 106–9. dual character of labour. 136. 195 cooperative form of. 140. 176–9. 125–6. 128. 134. 116. 202–3. 74 n. 133. 203 socially-necessary. 195–6 Kosik. 98. 107. 103. 210 living. 109. Karel. 101. 48. 161–4. 112. 207–9. 73 n. 128. 152. 173 . 8. 171–2. 198. Ferdinand. 119 n. 201–2. 28. 154. 180. Imperialism. 180. 45. 166–7. 209–10 actual. 186. 213 abolition of. 80. 47. 125. 168. 143 Karatani. 113. 174–5. 210 n. 77. 2 Keynesian fiscal policies. 29. 95–7. 205. 158. 126. 32. 68 n. 176–8. 117–18. 113. 198 n. 162–5. 165–6. 129–30. 171–2. 41 Irrationality. 101. 44–5. 203 Labour-tokens. 196–200. 80. 84–5. 82. 121–2. 117. 136. 164–6. 66. 115. 99. 23. 115 Kouvelakis. 98. 101 n. I. 147. 58. 194–200. 161. 137–9. János. 44. 13. 138. 155. Soren. 27–29. 86. 175. 95–6. 147. 51. 24. 94. 167–8 Lange. 34. V. 208. 122. 185. 130–1. 185–91. 96–7.. 80. 66–8. 127–9. concrete labour. 28. 101–9. 184 India. 129. 130–1. 49. 128. 18. 227 Leontief. 82 Joint-stock companies. 142 n. 144. 2 Kolakowski. 195. 152. Immanuel. 105–7. 30. 159. 126. 88–9. 139. 208 Inequality. 83. 28. 49–50. 134 n. 159.

141. 133–4. 138. 46–7. Volume II (1885). 204 n. 54–5 Critique of the Gotha Program (1875). 199 Le Capital (1872–75). 202–3 Markets. 6. 76 Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859). 46 Liebknecht. 20 n. 47–54. 65 n. David. 47 n. Éléments de l’économie politique’ (1844). Des Principes de l’économie politique et de l’impot. 85–7. 206 n. 162–4. 184–5 Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s ‘Philosophy of Right’. 25. 69–70. 176–82. 81 n. 82. 19–28. 147 n. 172. 52 n. 47 ‘Leading Article in No. 82–3. 134. 166. 141 n. Volume I (1867). 136 n. Robert Thomas. 215 commodity. 166 n. 46 The Communist Manifesto (1847). 171 Mandel. 61 ‘Comments on the Latest Prussian Censorship Instruction’ (1842). 205 n. 53 Madness. 133–4. 77–8. Volume III (1894). 117. 131. Wilhelm. 9 n. 2. 132 n. 209 Capital. 93. Introduction’ (1843). 76–7. 22. 166 The Civil War in France (1871). 216 Economic Manuscript of 1861–63. 172–3. 87–88. 127. 158–9 Luxemburg. 169. 61. 113 Machiavelli. 62 Lukács. 113 n. 67–8 Locke. 175. 19.236  •  Index Leopold. 59. 95 n. 9 n. 79 Lobkowicz. 82. 100–34. 95. 69 ‘Johann Most. 19 Levinas. 102 Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophies of Nature (1840–41). 104. 209 ‘Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic’ (1844). 162. 94. 206 Kreuznach Notebooks. 147–69. 131–2. 167. 87–91. John. 19. 23. 161. Nicholas. 5. 134. 107 Marcuse. 37 n. 96. 14–16. 7. 195–6. 183 Love. 59–75. 91–2. 71. 133–46. 73 n. 211 Capital. 171. 40 List. 77. 191–2 labour. 6–7. 95 n. 207. 110. Kovalevskij’ (1879). 208. 5 n. 152. 65. 75. 9 n. Karl (works). 200 n. 6. 132. 129. 56–59. 79. 160 ‘Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. 178. 134. 107. 187–204. 38 n. 79 Leroux. 160–1. Ricardo. 82–4. 141. 54. 198. 188 Lifshitz. Capital. 186. 160 n. 93–4. 191. 3. 36. 192–3. 7 ‘Drafts of The Civil War in France’ (1871). 13–14 Lévi-Strauss. 27–9. 44 ‘Communism and the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung’ (1842). 152. 95 n. 179 of Kölnische Zeitung’ (1842). 198. 90. 138 n. 149. Pierre. 33. 12. 121 n.’ (1844). 137–9. 93–94. 216–21 ‘Exzerpte und Notizen 1843 bis Januar 1845’. 46 Levels-theory. 46 ‘Exzerpte aus Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: Phänomenologies des Geistes’ (1844). Mikhail. 19. 169–76. 138. 33. 210 n. (1843). 173 Mao Zedong. 144. 15. 57 n. 136 n. 69 Grundrisse (1857–58). 56. 48. 94. See Inversion Malthus. 15. 21. 69 n. 28. 61. traduit de Constancio etc. 138. 203 n. 136 n. 108 n. 47. 55. 160 n. 98. 59. 195. 65. 33–5. 65–71. 183–7 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844). 79 ‘Draft Letters to Vera Zasulich’ (1879). 6. 92 Liberalism. 122 n. 53.M. 163–6. 63. 97 The German Ideology. 88 ‘Draft of an Article on Friedrich List’s Book Das Nationale System der politischen Ökonomie’ (1845). 179 n. 93–4. 1. 12–13. 49. 166 ‘D. 182. 183–7. 156 n. Karel. 195 see also World-market Marx. Claude. 204 n. Ernest. 48 Louis Napoleon. 138. 63 n. Michael. 197. 74 Löwy. 209. 144. 44–5 . Rosa. 192–3 Comments on James Mill. 37–43. 98 Ludenhoff. 206. 56 n. (1846) 75–82. Georg. 73 n. 200. 86. Kapital und Arbeit’ (1875). 167. 35. 57. 164. Emmanuel. 149 ‘Excerpts from M. Friedrich. 162 n. 56 n. 35. 35. 49. 56–9. 20. Herbert. 11. 60 n. 3. 156. 6. 100. Niccolò. 53. 95 n. 61 The Holy Family (1845). 47 n. 121 n.

160–4. 200–1 Means of production. 9. 153 n. 84 ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ (1845). 8. 47 n. 31. 46. 140–1. 105. See Mode of production Mediation. 174–9. 46–7 ‘Reflections of a Young Man on the Choice of a Profession’ (1835). 166 . 99. 92. 108–9. 47 n. 4. 103. 174–5 Money. 30–2. 186. 116. 94 n. 135. 6. 86 n. 51. 13 n. 71. 39. 52. First Article. 137 n. 49. 116 n. 1843’. 60. 170. 211 McCulloch. 11. 137. 20. 62 The Poverty of Philosophy (1847). 44. 123. 103. 9–10. 77. 131. 104. 57. 120. 30. 61. 335 and 336 of the Augsburg Allgemiene Zeitung on the Commissions of the Estates in Prussia’ (1842). 206. 131 see also Marxist-Humanism. 102. 145. 16–18. 143. 102–6. 8 ‘Letter to Engels of April 9. 142. 53–4 ‘Manuskripte zum zweiten Buch des ‘Kapitals’ 1868 bis 1881’. 120–1. 49 Theories of Surplus Value (1861–63). 93. 166. 69 n. 117. 19. 16–17 subjectivist. 85–9. 115–16. 53. 102. 9 n. 118. 217 Index  •  237 Value. 209–10 see also Production-relations. 141. 41 n. 178 Montesquieu. 196. 217–18. 5. 1856’. 181–2. 119 n. 133. 216 Mode of production. 131 orthodox. 49–51. 210. 1843’. 86 Materialist conception of history. 77. 85–6. 83–4 ‘Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy’ (1839–40). 19. 216 ‘Moralizing Criticism and Critical Morality’ (1847). 56–9. 36. 145. 27–8. post-Marx Marxism Marxist-Humanism. James. A. 22 n. 91–2. 4 n. 35. 110–11. 94 ‘Notes on Wagner’s Lehrbuch der politischen Ökonomie’ (1881). 44–6 ‘Proceedings of the Sixth Rhine Province Assembly. 26. 60. 153. 94. Charles-Louis de Secondat. 38 ‘Letter to Engels of August 1. 158 Master/Slave dialectic. 139 Miller. 56 Means and Ends. 110. 136–41. 28. 197 ‘Proceedings of the Sixth Rhine Assembly. 38. 134. 62. Third Article on the Law of Thefts of Wood’ (1842). 56. 36. 118. 201. 16–17. 113. 9–25. 17. 159 n. 100 Marxism. 129. 124. 188 n. 53 Morality. 77. 71. 57. Patrick. 135 Mill. 85. 145. 169. ‘Letter from Marx to His Father’ (1837). 23 ‘Letter to Ludwig Feuerbach of October 3. 55 Metaphysics. 56. 23. 219 Murray. 33. 66 n. 56–7. 5. 50. 214 Materialism. Allan. 129. 111. 86 ‘Results of the Immediate Process of Production’ (1866). 118. 212. 21. 221 Megill. Istvan. 76. 85. 94. 77. 40 n. 2 n. 50 ‘Letter to Ludwig Feuerbach of August 11. 5. John Ramsey. Productive forces Monetary capital. 134 n. 141. 78. 208 Middle Ages. 16. 2. 94 n. 149. John Stuart. 141 n. 205 ‘Notes on the Poverty of Philosophy’ (1880). 172 n. 2. 161–3. Price and Profit (1865). 31.V. 82 Mill. 122 n. 82. 51 n. 124. 147. 129 n. 50. 2. 167. 204. 108–9.. 73. 206 ‘On the Jewish Question’ (1843). 56. 57. 35. 113. 5 n. 219 Monopoly. 165 Supplement to Nos. 66–7. 19. 152. 91 Mészáros. 178. 41–2 ‘Notes on Bakunin’s Book Statehood and Anarchy’ (1875). 123–4. 14. 80. 168 n. 165. 75. 114. 156 n. 54. 124 n. 55 ‘Letters from the Deutsch-Franzöischer Jahrbücher’ (1843). 66. 58 n. 16 n. 73 n. 213–14 objectivist. 91–2. 121 n. 169 n. 58. 21. 9 n. 7 Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe (MEGA2). 164 ‘Wages’ (1847). 101 n. 77–8. 19. 95. 189–90. 52. 25–32. 212 abstract. 94 n. 4. 32–4. 87. 198. 79–81. 60 n. 169 n. 53–4. 1863’. 153–8. 93–101. 22–3. 73 n. 181. 142. 7. 106. 67 Material conditions. Debates on Freedom of the Press and Publication of the Proceedings of the Assembly of the Estates’ (1842).

189. See Humanism Necessity. 143. 62. 13. 57. 161. 35. 202. 70. 25. 90–1. 6–7. 195. 14. 206 Nationalism. subjectivist Postcapitalist society. 81 n. objectivist. 201–9. 3. Hegel. Adrian. 6 Philosophy of revolution. 98–9. 104–8. 182. 32. 119. 46. 188. 112–15. 160. 144–5. 107–9. 65 Peasantry. 78–9. 204 Particular versus Universal interests. 203–4. 137. 116–17. 165. 213 Play. Moishe. 135. 208 National minorities. 143–4. 129. 101. 19. 143. 41. 99. 90. 58. 7. 129–30 Neo-Ricardian socialists. 211. 95. 140. 159–60 Neurath. 164. 131. 64 n. 4. 44 Praxis. 7. 126. 90. 24. 60 Poverty. 127–8. 152–5. 215 Negation. 112. 84 Nature. 41–3. 213–14 see also Marxism. 84. 24. 174–5. 16–21. 182. 168. 10. 181–2. 171 Polanyi. 156–8. 138–41. 5. 123. 203 n. 214 Normative commitments. 38 n. 160. 94. 121. 137. 164. 50 n. 203 n. 200. 68. Michael. 174–7. 179 Overproduction. 65. 55 of masses of people. 86. 9 n. 6 Population. 185–7. 205. Jean-Jacques. 209. 18. 186.W. 221. 211 n. 96. 127–8. 7. 90–1. 149–52. 64. 168 n. 3. 85. 160. 122. 44. Negation of the negation Negation of the negation. 53. 72 Paz. 65. 135. 5. 78–9. Antonio. 9 Phenomenological reduction. 118 Planned economy. 134. 26. Paul. relation of. 11–12. 43. 9. 65 abstract. 85. 72 see also negation of the negation Negri. 84. 167–8 Peperzak. 96–7. 124–6. 85. 214. 82. 59 Mystification. 77 n. 81. 35–6 Ontology. 18. 116–20. 92. 5. 140. . 135. 192. 145–6. 52. 64. 110–11. 116. 199–200. 88. 184–5 of small groups. 201. 219 Ollman. 181–82. 33 n. 132–3. 134. 168 Predictability. 87. 206 see also Desire Paris Commune (1871). 150 Philosophical dualism. Socialism. 155–60. 204–5 of thought. Robert. 65. 210–11. 137–9. 220 Needs. 210. 111–14. 35. 104. 213–14 Postone. 164. 201. 39. 157. 193 Private Property. 120–3. 187–90. 67 n. 16. 1. Marxism.F. 214 Pragmatism. 86. 187. 194. 119. 103. 212 Plutarch. 189. 133. 101. 199–200. 91. 122. 137. 129. 20. 4. 60. 119 n. 45 New society. 181–2. 30–1. 42 n. 169. Octavio. 67 n. 23. 110. 94. 31. 141. 48. 104. 18. Negativity. 135 n. 168. 60 n. 92. Marxism. 20–1. 103–4. 142. 60 n. 55 n. 202. 148. 107. 7 n. 60–2. 81 Phoenicians. 202–13 see also socialism. 25. 9. 120–1. 142. 80. 95–6. 45–6. 131–2. communism. 170. 175–6. 32. 26–32. 57. 139 Prices. 19 Plato. 34. 97. 120–2. 161. 3–5. 203 n. 134. 21. 24. 64. 184–8. 17. 100. Bertell. 129. 139. 158 Organisation. 90. 5. 14. 39–40. 13. 141 n. 108–12. 118. 99. 82 Political economy. private Production-relations. 195. 81. 74. G. 81. 42 Poland.238  •  Index Music. 134. 3 n. 168. 192. 107 n. transcendence of value-production Non-Western societies. 102–5. 214 Objective/subjective. 14. 12–13. 118–20. 63–4. 115. See Property. 125 Post-Marx Marxism. 131–3. 30. 198 n. 217 Natural limits. 51. 122. 70–3. 192–7. 112–13. 90 Naturalism. 13 n. 79. 220–1 absolute. 159. 203. 88. 143 Paris. 88. 143–5. 75. 115–17. 34. 96 Passion. 134 Paolucci. postcapitalist society. orthodox. 13. 183. 181. 79. 197. 155. 1. 23. 113. 118. 217 see also Communism. 102. Georgii. 55 Philosophical moment. 36. 48. 6. 5. 30–2. 40–2. 72. 72. 7 n. See Negativity. 33. 77 Patriarchy. 59 Plekhanov. 90 Precapitalist societies. 155. Otto. 200. 114. 147. 2. 21. 157. 87. 41 n. 138. 119 n. 169. 183–7. 205 Owen. 217. 82 Pillot. 173–4.

120. 208 Religion. 104. 154. Jürgen. 161. 203 n. 134. 123. 213. 203. 162–6. 34. 179 Sartre. 18. 81. 204 n. 121. 63. 179. 71. 9 n. 171 Rogin. 55 n. 193. 166. 206 Schelling. 183. 177. 7 Property. 189. 72. 94 decline in the rate of. 64. 85. 60–3. 118. 50 n. 135–9. 166–8 communal. 155 Rockmore. 47 n. 176 Proletariat. 73. 61. 56 Skepticism. 62–4. 53. 19. 39. 205 . 83. 13 n. 56. 140. 64 n. 171–2. 185. 74 n. 39 n. 100. 173. 201. 173. 167–8. 1. Cyril. 215 Bavaria (1918–19). 42. 159 n. 173 n. Jean-Paul. 59. 17. 72. 176–8. Fréderick. 14–16. 119. 83. 140. 91. 80. 176–8 Serfdom. 53. 112 n. 2 Sensuousness. 182. 133. 187. 168. 138 n. Claude Henri de Rouvroy. 11 Senegal. Johann Karl. 197 Prussia. 60. 160. 103. 113–14. 30. 126. 114–15. 53 Rationalism. 131. 184 n. 88. 46. 114. 118. 149. 187. 127–8. 120. 93 n. 14 n. 57 n. 208 state. 40. 184–7. 41 Slavery. 44. 218–19 Reification. 78–9. 206. 169. 32–4. 218 Separation of workers from objective conditions of production. 114. 212. 25. 98. 171 Skarbek. 59 n. 17. 189 Sieyès. 94 Index  •  239 Germany (1918). 70. 125. Adam. 135. 83–4. 159–60. Leopold de. 176 Reproduction. 89. 105. 106. 177. 13. F. 47 n. 98 Revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. 3 permanent. 196–7 Profit. 57 n. 60. 77 Rodbertus. 2 Ramsey. Tom. 219–21 Seneca. 98. 172–80. 53. 140 n. 115. 59 Smith. 7. 73–4 see also Paris Commune Revolutionary Communist Society. 87. 184. 173. 102. 3 China (1949). 92. Pierre-Joseph. 105–9. 114. 208 Realisation of surplus-value. 34. 141 n. 164. 191–2. 122. 210–11 simple. 116 France (1789). 184–7. 161. 177–9 private.W. 9–12. 168 n. 203. 139 Ranke. 18. 217. 129. 205. 133. 74–5. 210 n. 40. 200. 143. 10. Gillian. 72. 172–5 Resistance. 42. 122. 132. 141. 171. 104 Reuten. 70. 38. 140 n. 204. 9 n. 98. 95. 76. 46. 3. 156 Rojahn. 209 Rent. 72–3. 80 Russia. 85. 125. 193–4. 116 n. 201 Proudhon. 131. 101–2. 154–8. 11–12. 164. 11. 55 n. 19. 197. 177 n. 221 Second International. 79. 6 Rousseau. 203. 195 n. 207–8 Self-consciousness. 19 Say. 95. 188–9. Leo. 174 expanded. 96. 48 Ruge. 121. 66. Marx’s concept of. 94–6. 183. 4. 87–9. 9 Revolution. 56. 146. Thomas. 85–87. 30. 8. Jean-Baptiste. 169–70. 213 Smith. 45. 47. 184. 26. 172 n. 1 Rose. 121. 201. 165. 117. 82. 155. 204–5 Ricardo. 72. 62. 210. 181–2. 132 Race. 186 n. 120. 29. 135 n. 94–9. 124. Albert Eberhard Friedrich. 60. 158. 43 Public-sector employees. 198–202 Productive forces. 162–3 Service-sector. 209. 7 Saint-Simon. 164. 54. 210 n. 171–5. 56. 131 Rosdolsky. 28. Arnold. 116 n. 131. 111. 10. 44. 117–18. 217–20 Self-determination of the idea. 56. 164–5. 153–6. 37. 173 n. 136. Geert. 75. 63 n.. Emmanuel. 56 n. 94 Sismondi. 36. 163. Jean-Jacques. 55 n. 122 n. 5 n. 109. 210 n. 56. 203. 106. Jean Charles Léonard de. 187. 113. 162–3. 100. 68 Science. 115 n. 8. 162. 219–21 Remuneration. 132. 40. 139. 132. 31. 127. 102 Schaffle. 74. 10. 118 n. George. 91. David. 139. 214 Productivity. 145. 83. 211 Retrogression. 165–6. 71–3 Self-knowledge. 145. 196–9. 45 Self-activity of the masses. 82–3. 72. 88. 80. 68–9. 44. 60 n. 117. 40. 145. 108 Sekine. 79.J. 172 Reason. 72. Roman.

79–80. 115 n. 132 n. 171–2 Unemployment. 146. State-capitalism Totality. 26. 155. 36 Spontaneity. 141 n. 97 Species-being. 182. 15. 195. transcendence of Transformation into opposite. 73 n. 159–60. 157. 10. 19. 166 n. 87–88. 28. 171 Syllogism. 17. 5 n. 41 Theory. 212. 41 Subject. 206. absolute movement of becoming. 204 welfare. 1. 146. 76 n. 76. 6. See labour-time. 214–15 higher phase of. 8. 46–50. 209. 206 Transparency of social relations. 185. 71. 162 n. 161. 160. 196. socially-necessary Socialism. 158–60. 167. 104. 82–3. Mario. 68. 24 n. 86 Thing-in-itself. 88. 39. 21. 201–3. 48. 73. 90. 126. 68. 76. 22 Sweezy. 204. 14 n. 199 n. 112–13. 87. See labour. postcapitalist society. 101 n. 195. 91. 213–14 see also Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). 25. 130. 17. 5. 121 n. 56 n. 137. 83. 209–10. 126. 30–1. 65–6. 112 n. 18. 206–8 abolition of. 89 Transitional formations. 110. 148–9. 166. 191. 57. transcendence of Society of Egalitarian Workers. 205. 107 n. 26. as subject Substance as subject. 12 Underconsumptionism. 212. 191–2 Suffering. 165. 218–21 Uchida. 131. 183–6. 182–6. 99–100. 177–9. 12. 7. China. 25 Truth. 1 Ukraine. 198. 9 n. 204–5 single party. 39. 17. 73. 197–8. 77 n. 213 n. 19. 45. 71. 197 n. 76. 79. 175. 11. 24. free. 206. 63–4. 66. 14. 118. 167. 144. 9. 140. 84. 48. 103 n. 68. 80. 5. Paul. 213 n. 182. 157. 10. 142. 124. 173. 59. 96. 71. 144–6. 91 Supply and demand. 202–6. 12 United States of America (USA). 106. capital. 200–3. 162. 73 n. 32–3. 200–1 Trigg. 212 lower phase of. 186. resistance. 110. 139. 181–2. 208.. 78 n. 83. 134. 46. 16–18. 43 . 187. 173 Tronti. 140. 209. 84 n. 2 n. 178. 13. 41 n. 12 State (the). 199 n. 12 see also Stalinism. 48. 14. 84 n. 185. 173. 209. 85. 38. 173 n. 142 Thompson. 87. 221 as space for human development. 173. 76–7. 99. 132 Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). 130–2. 159–60. 186. 67–8. 52 n. individuality. 29. 77 n. 17. 91. 2 Themistocles. 93 n. 139. 97. Labour. 190. 59 workers’. 125. 139 n. 53. 217 of Universal-Particular-Individual. 94. 209–10 see also abolition of value-production. 140. 166 n. communism. 117. 9 n. 182 n. 193–6. 89. 202 see also Labour-time Totalitarianism. 145. 103. 14. 203. 19–20. 70. 99–100. 210 Thatcher. 176–82. 208. negation of the negation. 20. 80–1. 94 Swedenborg. 66 n. 217–18 Technological innovation. 53. 31–3 Socially-necessary labour-time. 72. 80. 202 see also Human nature Spinoza. Emanuel. 7. 85. 133. 208 see also Proletariat. 13. 34. 213 n. 138 n. 137 Surplus-value. 218 see also value-production. 17. 135. German Social Democracy Stoicism. 162. 114. 96 Time. 145. 3. 189–94. 32. 146. 127–8. 63–4. 166. 140. 18. 150–2. 110–11. new society. 3. William. 112. 196. 74–5. 141. 187. 28. 217 Transcendence of alienation. 121. 46. Class-Struggle. 78. 25. 45. 71 n. 104. 14. 149 n.240  •  Index Smith. 86. Margaret. 17. Benedict de. 75. Andrew B. 98. 127. 16. 205 State-capitalism. 191. 174–5. 56. 19. 63. 179. 200–1. 59. 172 n. value Subjects of liberation. 71 Stalinism. 112 n. 121 n. 213 n. 30. Tony. value-production. 97. 989 South Korea. 104. 138 Transhistorical phenomena. 9. 125. 220–1 Substance of value.

41 n. 179. 124–5. 194. 62. 127. 89 n. 100. 193–6. 57. Forms of value Valorisation. 32. 170. 75. 17–18. 17. 143–4. 99. Exchange-value. 5. 79. 99. Value-production Value-production. 86. 114–16. 118. 2. 206 . 189. 3 Wage-labour. 63–4. 17–18 Women. 206. 158–60. 4. 155–60. 130–1. 95. 72. 170–2. 156. Universality. 2. 159 Uzbekistan. 18–19. 42. 163–6. 124. 205. 124–7. 131–2. 167. 217–20 Uno. 161. 174–5. 19. 44 Utopian socialism. 137. 17. 63. 205–8. 37 n. 208 see also Labourer. 213 Wagner. 172. 166–7. 148. 206. 56. 119–22. 188 n. 148–52. 148–51. 103. 10. 158. 82. 125–6 World-market. 2. 161–5. 197–8. 120. 158. 208. 204 n. 189–206. contrasted with value. 24. 196 World-revolution. 24. 86. 38. 109–10. 202. 194. 191 see also Capital. 195 n. 125. 62. 103. 210 Women’s liberation. 23. 175–6. 80. 104. 35. 10. 12 Value. 29 n. 84. 155. 63. 110 n. 134–40. See Realisation of surplusvalue Venezuela. 6–7. 176–8. 23–4. 180. 31. 213 n. 38 n. 4. 9. 203. 202. 182. 60 n. 104. 53. 117–18. Proletariat Working day. 23–4 Use-value. 130–1. 181–2. 191 Utilitarianism. 115 Young Hegelians. 126. 70–1. 206 Wealth. 110. 141 n. 7 n. 183–4. 118. 95–8. 18. 7. 164–7. 98. 23. Law of value. Adolph. 208 Working class. 11–15. 151–2. 79. 2. 194–6. 142–3. 139–43. 227. 192. Kozo. 122 as distinct from exchange-value. 48. 122. 104–8. 119–22. 98. 180 n. 5–6. 13. 12. 43. 186 n. 145. 80. 156. 30. 16–19. 26. 188 n. 196–8. 170. 214 transcendence of. 99. 92. 129. 150. 88. 202. 20–1. 66. 191. 40. 127. 68. Capital. 94 Youth. 211 Index  •  241 see also Abstract labour. 90. 6–8. 82–3. 115. 127. 204. 91. 186. 21. 208–10 as subject. 112–14. 3. 56. 116. 180. 26. 189. 29. 54 Vienna circle.

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